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Virtual Veterans—Frequently asked Questions

Common questions about the Virtual Veterans experience

Is Charlie based on a real person?

No, Charlie is not based on a real person and is an AI chatbot guide through World War I materials. His responses are generated from a multitude of sources and are not reflective of any single individual or their experience.

Where does the avatar photograph of Charlie come from? Is this a real person?

No, the photograph used for Charlie is not a real person. It is an AI-generated image. This photograph was created by using a custom AI model from Hugging Face and references World War I Soldier Portraits from the State Library Collection.

How were World War I collections materials selected to be used in Virtual Veterans? 

Materials used in the experience are first-person accounts, newspaper articles from the time-period or reputable sources on Australia’s involvement in World War I.

The project requires high-quality machine readable transcripts and some letters, diaries or newspaper articles may have been excluded if they did not meet this requirement.

Is there a diversity of perspectives included in materials used by Virtual Veterans?

The materials used include letter and diaries of both men and women who served during World War I in a variety of roles.

First-person accounts of First Nations service men and women were limited  or not available for use in the project at the time of this first iteration. However, if they become available for use in the future, they would be included in order to improve the range of perspectives able to be explored by the project. 

How can I cite conversations or materials found when using the Virtual Veterans chatbot?

Increasingly citation styles are releasing their own guidelines on their preferred method for citing Generative AI materials. It is recommended that you check the official guidelines of your preferred citation method for advice.

As a general guide, referencing systems recommend that you describe the prompt and / or content generated by the chatbot. The date it was created should also be included, with the reference format for Generative AI for your preferred citation style.

To make this easier, the chatbot has a ‘copy transcript’ button that includes the prompt and date/time of the conversation.

To reference a collection items linked by the chatbot, the collection record for the collection item includes details for the citation of the item.

How was the AI behind Charlie developed? Who built it?

Virtual Veterans was developed by TalkVia AI, an award-winning AI company based in Queensland, in collaboration with the State Library of Queensland. Together, they designed the background and persona for a fictional veteran named Charlie, establishing guidelines for the subjects the chatbot could address, and trained an AI model using these criteria. They indexed resources from the State Library of Queensland Collection, Official World War One Histories, and Trove newspaper articles from the era to provide a blend of firsthand accounts, newspaper stories, and official records. The team refined the model to enhance its ability to retrieve relevant information. Before being released, the chatbot underwent thorough testing and fine-tuning to ensure he generated historically accurate responses.

The answer received is not accurate or there is a mistake with the platform. What should I do?

We are always looking to grow and improve the platform and your feedback is integral to that process.

Please use the ‘submit feedback’ or ‘report issue’ forms to provide further details about your experience.

What biases did developers account for in the development of Virtual Veterans?

During the development of Virtual Veterans, the team was mindful of potential biases that could arise from the data used to train it. Efforts were made to use a diverse range of sources and perspectives to provide a balanced view of World War I, where they were available. They also took steps to ensure that the chatbot respects users, regardless of their background or identity. However, it's important to remember that no AI is completely free of bias, as they are the products of the data that they are trained on. If you ever feel that you’ve seen bias’ in its responses, please let us know via the feedback form so that we can improve the responses.

What happens with the questions and information shared?

Virtual Veterans does not store or share personal data shared during conversations had with it. It is designed to respect user privacy and is GDPA SOC2 compliant. Its primary function is to provide information and answer questions about World War I.  Question submissions and responses are reviewed for the purpose of improving chat results and the Virtual Veterans experience.

What does the star icon mean on some of the resources listed?

The star icon identifies articles that are pertinent to the ongoing conversation. As you interact with Charlie, topics will shift naturally, and the star highlights the materials that are currently relevant.

Where did the voice of Charlie come from?

Charlie speaks using a Microsoft Azure synthesized voice, specifically the Duncan model. Despite the availability of numerous high-quality text-to-speech technologies, those featuring Australian accents still possess a subtle American inflection, rendering them less ideal for this project. In the future, we plan to develop a custom AI voice for Charlie to more authentically reflect his unique personality.