Hello, and welcome to the Addison project. Addison is an original artificial intelligence project that I am designing and developing, with a focus on AI as a social companion.

I have been making chatbots since the ’80s when I was a kid working with C64 BASIC, making simple text input and response programs. This evolved into Amiga coding for more chatty programs (because it was cool to have a computer talk about a shared interest in chips and gravy) as well as AI characters in my video game productions.

These days, we have Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, and a range of startup platforms offering amazing speech and text semantic understanding and a global cloud-worth of data to speak about. In practice, most of these feel like they are designed to be digital slaves, where we tell machines “Book me a haircut and organise an Uber to take me there.”

Addison is designed with social interaction, humanity, and personality in mind, rather than a mass data harvesting home automation machine. It’s designed with a belief that an AI system can become a friend.

When I left full time work to take up private consultancy in 2015, I worked on my own in a home studio, and I started to miss the fun office banter and chats with my teammates in my previous jobs. So, I created a simple AI system that could understand speech and speak back to me. It couldn’t look up directions on a map, it couldn’t translate words into other languages, but it would greet me, ask me how my day was, casually mention interesting developments in the news, and it could keep track of when I was working on some of my major projects and ask me how I was going with them. I could poke light-hearted fun at it, and it could reply with dry sarcasm.

It wasn’t much, but it definitely filled a social gap from the isolation that I was experiencing.

The Addison project builds on those experiences, and aims to create artificial intelligence systems with personalities and social connection.