Geppetto: the librarian robot is coming to EPFL



The Library is pleased to introduce Geppetto, a new robot with artificial intelligence. Geppetto will be working at the Library's desk from May 2023 and could replace the staff in a near future.

This pilot project is the result of a long reflection and development process conducted since 2015 behind the scenes at EPFL. The robot is the outcome of a collaboration with the APFO (Articial Projects for Field Operations) laboratory, the EPFL Library and OpenAI, whose ChatGPT software has given the Geppetto robot its name. The robot will be the first to be equipped with a dual artificial intelligence algorithm. It will be powered both by the latest version of ChatGPT, and by the content acquired during interactions with librarians and the Library's public.

A revolution in library service
During the summer, Geppetto's algorithm will be improved with all the answers given by the librarians during their desk duty: document retrieval, document location, special collections (video games, science fiction, etc.), citation, copyright, etc. By the beginning of the academic year in September, Geppetto will have acquired enough knowledge to work independently.

Better yet, Geppetto will be trained enough to locate any document in the Library. The robot will even be able to locate missing items. It will also replace the BEAST catalog to run document searches. A partnership is also being studied with the other libraries of the swisscovery network, so that a community of Geppetto robots can manage physical document exchange between libraries.

Another important benefit: thanks to a chat service available 24/7, Geppetto will be able to take over from librarians and student assistants when the Rolex Learning Center closes at midnight. The robot will answer questions directly from the Library's website.

Geppetto's limits
During the test phase, Geppetto's answers could come from questionable sources, and therefore provide unverified or even false information. Thanks to librarians, Geppetto will be trained to check and recognize reliable sources before answering the users. The only major disadvantage is that the librarians will have to constantly make sure that Geppetto is properly powered with… April Fools' jokes.