Donna K Byron, IBM Watson & Cloud Platform, Good morning, beautiful chatbot! 5 best practices for rapid development of effective conversational agents


Donna K. Byron, PhD

IBM Watson and Cloud Platform division, Littleton MA

Good morning, beautiful chatbot! 5 best practices for rapid development of effective conversational agents

Tuesday, April 10, 2017 at 6:30 PM

At Audible, 101 Main Street, 6th Floor, Cambridge, MA 02142



The recent enthusiasm to create conversational interfaces and chatbots for e-commerce has been enabled by the availability of platforms with simple tooling for creating dialog flows, out-of-the-box language understanding, and one-click deployment to channels such as Slack. These tools bring chatbot creation within reach for makers from many professional backgrounds. While bot platforms are simple to use, many people are disappointed with their first attempts at building engaging and fluid conversations with out-of-the-box tools. But by incorporating a handful of key findings from human interaction models and spoken dialogue systems research, the linguistic and task competence of a conversational agent can be greatly improved.

This talk covers a focused set of design methods for human-computer dialogue that should be in every designer’s toolkit to field effective and engaging conversational agents, even on an aggressive timeline. They can be utilized when creating conversational systems from scratch or within a platform such as Microsoft Bot Framework,, etc.  Dr. Byron will share how these methods have been used in the context of fielding multiple conversational systems using the Watson Conversation Service by IBM.


Donna Byron currently works as a Senior Software Developer in the Watson and Cloud Platform division at IBM. She has been building intelligent conversational agents in both commercial and research settings for 20 years.  Since joining IBM’s Watson Software group in 2012, she has built natural language understanding components in diverse domains from healthcare to cooking to pop culture and travel.

Prior to joining IBM, Dr. Byron contributed to human-computer dialogue research in several academic labs, including the Relational Agents lab at Northeastern University.  She completed her PhD in the Conversational Interaction and Spoken Dialogue Research Group at the University of Rochester, where she helped advance the state of the art in deep semantic processing for spoken dialogue agents performing collaborative tasks with human partners. She also co-founded the Speech and Language Technologies lab in the Ohio State University Computer Science Department, where her research focused on human-computer dialogue for embodied conversation in virtual environments.

Dr. Byron is the inventor or co-inventor on over 40 US Patents in various areas of Artificial Intelligence and was awarded the designation of Master Inventor at IBM in 2014.

Evening schedule

6:30 – 7:00  Networking over pizza and beverages
7:00 – 8:30  Meeting
8:30 – 9:00  CHI Dessert and more networking


Thank you to our generous sponsors. Interested in sponsoring BostonCHI? Let us know!

Audible is hosting us

Mad*Pow is sponsoring pizza.

Vitamin T is sponsoring dessert.

Getting there

Audible is located at 101 Main Street, 6th Floor, Cambridge, MA 02142. The entrance to the building is right next to Tatte Bakery on Main Street. The best way to get there is to take the Red Line to Kendall Square. If you’re driving, here’s a list of parking locations.