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Confucius computer: a philosophical digital agent for intergenerational philosophical play

Cheok, A. D. ORCID: 0000-0001-6316-2339, Edirisinghe, C. & Karunanayaka, K. (2017). Confucius computer: a philosophical digital agent for intergenerational philosophical play. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 21(2), pp. 327-343. doi: 10.1007/s00779-016-0995-8


Confucianism is commonly defined as “... a system of philosophical, ethical and political thought based on the teachings of Confucius,” which originated through the teachings of Confucius during the sixth-century BCE. It is a way of life or a philosophy of human nature that considers human relationships as the foundation of the society. Confucius teachings had highly influenced the development of several cultures in Asia, making Confucianism an intangible cultural heritage. In this paper, we are re-acquainting users with an intangible heritage that is part of their everyday, by developing a system that permits experiencing Confucius teachings virtually and interactively. The system can measure philosophical intent of the human and generate meaningful philosophical answers. It is also aimed for intergenerational sharing of Confucius heritage through a simple interactive process with the virtual sage making the experience enjoyable and entertaining. Previous research in natural language processing (NLP) mainly focused on the understanding and delivering of human natural language accurately. In this research, we explored how to apply NLP to model the knowledge and teachings of Confucius, through the natural conversation between human and computer. This virtual Confucius, a chat agent that generates outputs based on Confucius teachings, using a series of algorithms and techniques to improve the matching accuracy between user input and computer output, introduces a novel way of interacting with intangible cultures. Our user evaluation results revealed that there is a positive correlation between relevance and enjoyment, finding their experiences interacting with virtual Confucius very encouraging. Adults who participated in experiencing the virtual Confucius together with their children believed that this system has the potential to improve intergenerational interactions through shared play.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2016. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Publisher Keywords: Philosophical conversation, Linguistic computation, Accuracy measurement Intangible cultural heritage, Virtual Confucius, Chat agent.
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Computer Science
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