Philosobot: a chatbot for the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics

Philosobot: designing a chatbot for the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics

Academics are perhaps not best known for conveying their research to others in the most accessible way – Philosobot is a chatbot designed to do this job on their behalf, at least for the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. It uses humour and an
engaging conversational style to encourage fellow humans to explore topics in practical ethics in a more in-depth way.

Thanks to funding from Oxford University’s Public Engagement with Research Seed Fund, we are now developing this idea so that the chatbot can walk users through more and more research
topics in practical ethics, especially ones related to the centre’s research in emerging technologies, such as gene editing, AI, enhancement and synthetic biology.

Our primary aim is to use Philosobot to: 

  • Inform users about research in practical ethics through a highly accessible and engaging conversational format. 
  • Link to specific research outputs and events related to the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics (e.g. new publications, talks, workshops etc.) 
  • Offer a useful resource to those considering, or studying adjacent subjects such as biological sciences, law and medicine.

If successful, our secondary, prospective aims for the chatbot are to develop it further so it can also: 

  • Help members of the public settle debates or clarify disputes around controversial topics in practical ethics (e.g. abortion, euthanasia, gene editing). 
  • Gain insight into users’ intuitions about various moral dilemmas, including how or whether Philosobot alters their views about those dilemmas.

Timeline: Philosobot is now live in beta mode and will be fully operational in July. If you are interested in testing Philosobot please email Hazem Zohny


Hazem Zohny

Headshot of Hazem Zohny

Hazem is a Research Fellow in Practical Ethics, Neuroscience, and Society at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics (joint post with NeuroSec in the Department of Psychiatry). His current work focuses on the ethics of merging minds via brain-computer interfaces and on the relationship between the goals of medicine and patient well-being. He has a PhD in Bioethics from the University of Otago, where he worked on ethical and conceptual issues related to human enhancement.

Hunar Batra

Headshot of Hunar Batra

Hunar is an MSc in Advanced Computer Science student at the University of Oxford and her research revolves around Language Modelling, Question-Answering Models, and GNNs. At Oxford, she has been working on exciting research projects with the Oxford Human Centred AI group, Rhodes AI Lab and Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. Her research work has been recognised by IEEE, Springer, United Nations AI for Good Summit, The Mars Generation as a 24 under 24 awardee, Google Women in Computer Science scholar, and was named as the youngest Global AI Expert by Omdena. Previously, she Co-Founded HushTech AI to build Conversational AI chatbots to empower businesses.