Philippines Report

University of the Philippines’ COVID-19 chatbot operates with ‘gay speak’ function

COVID-19 chatbot

COVID-19 chatbot: You can tell today’s technology is improving when it’s taking on uniquely human nuances.

Case in point: the University of the Philippines (UP) today announced that its Facebook messenger pandemic response chatbot Yani, which gives information on COVID-19, can now speak in beki or Filipino gay lingo.

“LGBT slang or the Beki language option is now available when you converse with Yani! If you’re looking for COVID-19 statistics, the nearest hospitals, links to therapy and counseling, or information on policies, you can talk to Yani,” UP’s Facebook administrators wrote today.

Short for bayanihan (“camaraderie”), Yani was engineered by UP Resilience Institute (UPRI), which focuses on climate and disaster risk reduction research for a more “resilient” Philippines.

The lingo is one of three response options apart from English and Filipino that you can choose from when conversing with Yani, and UP said that the chatbot is also learning “different Philippine languages to be able to reach and converse with more Filipinos in an open and engaging way.”

These languages include Aklanon, Bahasa Sug, Bikol Sentral, Cebuano, Chavacano de Zamboanga, Hiligaynon, Ilokano, Itawis, Kapampangan, Meranaw, Waray Leyte, and Waray Samar.

LGBT slang or the Beki language option is now available when you converse with Yani! If you’re looking for COVID-19…

Posted by University of the Philippines on Monday, May 25, 2020

Coconuts Manila gave Yani’s automated Beki chat option a go. After we were asked what language we wanted to chat with, Yani prompted us with three options: “English only, please; Filipino, of course; and Beki, besh.

For the uninitiated, besh means “best friend” in English.

Bongga! Anong bet mo?” (“Spectacular! What are you betting on?”) was the chatbot’s reply after we chose Beki.

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