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[Gaia] Ep. 2: Getting started with Dialogflow

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I’ve started learning about Dialogflow and it really is a wonderful API. Basically, all you have to do is specify what you want your AI to respond when the user says specific things, and which data is important for your application.


Your AI is an agent and you can create intents to tell it what to respond when the user says certain things. You can choose several languages and Dialogflow takes care of the rest: it uses NLP (Natural Language Processing) and Artificial Neural Networks to understand what the user says. It works with both written and vocal inputs.

What Dialogflow really does is convert natural language into data that can be used by your application. You can specify which data to look for with intents and store it in variables, and you can then use those variables as you wish.
In my case, I want to know when the user asks who someone is. I can create an intent where I specify that when the user says “Who is ***”, I store the name given in a variable to check in my database if I have information about that person, especially the relationship the user and this person have.


Since Gaia is not just an assistant designed to answer the user’s questions, I have to make it chatty. Instead of just reacting to what the user says, it will try and make conversation. For instance, when the user says “Hello”, instead of just replying with a “Hi”, it will ask a question such as “What did you do today?”.

For your AI to have realistic conversations with the user, you can use follow-up intents, so that you don’t lose sight of what was previously said. I’m going to have to use this a lot since I want Gaia to act not as a robot assistant but as a friend.


Dialogflow also provides some prebuilt agents you can use if you don’t want to do everything from scratch, and there is an option to enable small talk. If you enable this, replies to sentences such as “How are you?”, “You’re nice”, etc. are already taken care of, which can save you some time.

I’m going to use the small talk feature (even though it is not available in Spanish and I want my app to work in Spanish too) but probably not a prebuilt agent.


The next step for me, now that I’ve covered the basics of Dialogflow, is building the app with Ionic and connecting it to the Dialogflow API. This will probably take a little while since I haven’t thought about the UI yet and I need to think about everything I want the user to see and interact with before I start developing the app.


Stay tuned,

A girl in tech.

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