It was the Fall of 2019 and my fiancé and I were absolutely obsessed with going to hackathons. For those of you who may not know, a hackathon is an event where software developers collaborate together to build something in a specified amount of time. We had just finished one in Kent two weeks prior and got the crazy idea to go into another without any project idea. Normally, we figure out what our project will be prior to the hackathon. This gives us plenty of time to do research for the project which ultimately saves valuable minutes during the event. However, we decided to just go, have some fun, and figure out something when we got there.

The Project

After arriving, checking in, and picking up some swag from the sponsors, we found a nice place to sit and began brainstorming. Initially, I had wanted to create something that utilized machine learning. My fiancé wanted to do something related to one of the prize categories, Best Hack for Social Good. Eventually, we came up with the idea of creating a chatbot utilizing conversational AI (Artificial Intelligence). What we ultimately decided on was to create a chatbot that someone who is suffering from lack of energy, depression, suicidal thoughts, etc., and is not comfortable sharing their thoughts with another human, could talk freely to the bot. Essentially, the goal was for the user to feel comfortable and maybe even feel better after talking with the bot.

Hacking Time

When hacking began, we immediately started researching machine learning and Tensorflow. Eventually, we got a neural network written and a model created to train it on. Since we were running extremely low on time and didn’t have any experience in Javascript frameworks/libraries, we opted to use Flask. Flask is a Python micro-web framework. It works great if you want to do everything yourself and get something built quickly.

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Javascript Rescued at a Hackathon When We Made An AI Chatbot
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