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Community Law launches legal application for schools

18 May 2017

Wagbot is a chatbot that knows the answers to many questions relating to problems parents and students have with schools.

“There is nothing out there quite like this in New Zealand,” says Geoffrey Roberts, General Manager of Community Law Wellington.

“Wagbot can understand natural language and gets smarter over time the more people chat to it,” he says.

Wagbot’s knowledge base is built around the content of a book published by Community Law Wellington, called Problems at School. Matthew Bartlett who led the technical development of Wagbot says it works well as a way of informing people about their options in a conversational way.

“It’s very quick to respond, can chat to multiple people at once and you don’t need to download an app as it is freely available through Facebook Messenger,” he says.

He says Wagbot has been getting a lot of attention from teenagers over recent weeks and the team at Community Law Wellington have been using these conversations to train Wagbot to better respond to issues.

“Wagbot uses machine learning algorithms to improve its understanding and usefulness,” Mr Bartlett says.

“We also have access to thousands of call logs from our Student Rights phone line that when fed to Wagbot make it even smarter,” he says.

Mr Bartlett says the next challenge for the development team is to apply this technology to the Community Law Manual; a 900 page book with nearly 3000 questions and answers on common legal issues.

“Wagbot is teaching us about how to tackle this next challenge” says Matthew. “The intersection of artificial intelligence and the law is a really fascinating space and we are keen to pursue every opportunity in this area,” he says.

Community Law Wellington are talking with several organisations about partnering with them to develop chatbot interfaces for various applications.

“If we can get this technology working at the scale of the Community Law Manual it will be the closest thing to a robot lawyer New Zealand has seen,” Geoffrey Roberts says.

You can chat to Wagbot here.

Last updated on the 18th May 2017