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.
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.
Asked about therapy and counseling, Yani shot back in the most extra way a bot could write back: “UP Diliman Psychosocial Services (PsycServ) is giving out love with telepsychotherapy for all the negative nancys and stir crazies in this NYOVID-19 shondemic.”
Don’t ask us to translate what the last phrase means–read it as is.
“If you’re betting on getting an appointment ever, go and click on this link here and fill in the blanks in the form… Oyyy, what else do ya need?”
Asked about COVID-19 policies, Yani wrote back, “Fierce, you’re here. What policy areas are you betcha by golly wow-ing?”
Then when searching for hospitals, the flamboyant chatbot replied, in humorous bastardized Filipino, “Saanchi ka ngayonchi?” (“Where are you nowwww?”)
Guess that’s one way of mitigating our current state of disaster and keeping informative things light and airy.
What do you think about Yani’s Beki Speak? Does ‘Saanchi ka ngayonchi’ make you chuckle? Tarush! Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @CoconutsManila.
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