As a speaker at our last WAD conference in April 2016, Barbara Ondrisek mentioned that already in 2001 as part of her first “commercial project” she developed a prototype for mobile chatting at Siemens. Since then, Android came in and she started to develop Android Apps as she calls them in form of “pet projects” till one of them, the LIKE A HIPSTER App attracted far more attention than expected. Later, the chatbot version of the App, Mica The Hipster Cat Bot became the first  Facebook chatbot developed in Austria, helping out people on the search for hipster locations. In this interview we asked her about her inspirations to become a developer, current happenings in the developer and start-up scene and her future ideas.
How have you become a developer? 
My father always explained the world to me and underlying scientific principles. As a child I was only allowed to play with his first computer (an expensive purchase at that time!) when he was around. However, one day he started to show me, what can be accomplished further with a PC and we programmed „Worm“ in Turbo Pascal with each other. That was amazing!
You work in an industry, which is largely dominated by men. Although, it’s evolving very fast and offers more and more opportunities for women… Do you still see differences in working as a female or male developer?
No.
It’s still maybe hard to find female role models in the field of development. Can you mention some of yours?
It’s not hard to find great female role models! I’m inspired by – but not limited to – these 3 programmers:
– Ada Lovelace! She is considered to be the first „programmer“, back then in the 19th century. She developed mathematical algorithms.
– Grace Hopper is considered the first computer science pioneer. She invented the first compiler, among other things.
– Adele Goldstine, together with other ladies, programmed the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer), the first universally usable electronic computer.
You have been working at several big companies before… Finally, you ended up working on your own projects for a while. Why?
I worked as a freelancer for 15 years, mostly in Java web projects as back-end developer and always wanted to start my own “real” company. Beside work I always played around with private projects and some of them such as LIKE A HIPSTER  attracted more attention than expected.
Now with the rise of chat bots and the support of some great people I took advantage of the current developments and set up a team to develop Mica, the Hipster Cat Bot .
You are one of the most prominent pioneers on bots. What can be the next invention on bots? In case chatbots will eventually replace mobile apps, what will replace chatbots in the future?
I don’t think that chatbots will replace apps entirely but they will replace bad apps.
The idea (and opportunity) behind chatbots is the lack of barriers to use them: Apps have to be installed separately, bots are integrated in the apps people already use regularly. App stores, passwords, free device space and fast downloads are just some of the obstacles in getting your app delivered.
Conversely, billions of people worldwide are already using messengers and chat bots can reach all of them. They integrate seamlessly into the chat infrastructure.
You are quite busy nowadays: Mica, The Hipster Cat, conferences, meet-ups… What will your next project be about?
These days I’m planning a project about machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) to emancipate bots and enrich them with that, what they are currently lacking: To really understand humans. That is a super difficult process and a lot of research still has to be done in this field.
Tell us your favorite developer joke!
An SQL query goes into a NoSQL bar. After a little while it walked out – It couldn’t find a table!
Suggest someone we should interview the next time on WeAreDevelopers! What would you ask this person about?
Natalie Korotaeva: Ask her about good UX in chat bots.
Thomas Schranz: Ask him about the lemmings.io programm, a summer school about chat bots!

Leave a Reply

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

If you agree to these terms, please click here.