Have you ever wanted to talk to Einstein about his love life? Who wouldn’t love an opportunity to chat with one of the most iconic scientific minds to ever exist? National Geographic has just made that (kind of) possible with a new Facebook Messenger chatbot promoting their show Genius, a dramatic look at the life of Albert Einstein as he grapples with theoretical physics, relationships, and an increasingly dangerous and hostile political world.
A chatbot is perfect for this show, which revolves around a charismatic and intriguing character. Facebook Messenger’s Einstein is witty, funny, and has a masterful understanding of when to use GIFs. Not too bad for someone who died in 1955. Don’t mind his casual existential dread, because even as “the universe is accelerating infinitely into nothingness” he’s still curious about how your day is going. He’ll listen to historical inquiries about his wives, nonsensical text, and anything else you throw at him. The love life encouragement didn’t hurt either! Of course, the greatest fun in chatbots like Genius‘ is to ask as many ridiculous questions as possible and the bot definitely delivers in that aspect.
Einstein is incredibly chatty, dropping bits of wisdom and suggesting lots of conversation topic which are great for building engagement. These suggestions create a real sense of conversation, but avoiding the “choose your own adventure” format also allows users to create an even more personalized experience with the bot. We didn’t know too much about Einstein’s music tastes, so being presented with that option was a great way to dive into a different part of his life.
National Geographic created the Einstein bot with interactive agency 360i. 360i head of Innovation Technology Layne Harris talked to GeoMarketing about how the bot lines up with the show’s goal of celebrating Einstein’s “lesser known qualities and stories.” “Rather than having the campaign speak for Einstein, we wanted Einstein to speak for himself,” says Harris. “We decided to pursue a conversational chatbot that would feel natural and speak as Einstein would. This provides a more intimate and immersive experience for users to really connect with him one on one and organically discover more content from the show.” The voice of the bot really feels alive, and we felt closer to the dead scientist who named his violin Lina and calls her a lover afterwards.
Genius airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c. As Einstein says, “socks are optional.” What do you think about the bot? What would you ask Einstein if you got the chance? Let us know in the comments below.