Get ready to text with machines, the Chatbots are coming

When the tech giant Microsoft unveiled its AI or artificial intelligence-powered bot on Twitter for a playful chat with the people in March, little did the tech giant realise that the twitterati would begin slamming the innocent bot with racist and offensive comments. Launched as an experiment in “conversational understanding” and to engage people through “casual and playful conversation”, Tay was soon taken off Twitter by Microsoft engineers. This was a soft experiment. But what if you can interact with a “chatbot” and send the AI-powered machine your financial requirements like you would text to your banker or chartered accountant in the near future?

Facebook wants this to happen and at its F8 global developer conference in April, the social networking giant unveiled AI bots right into its popular messaging app Messenger — to allow 900 million monthly active users on Messenger to interact with businesses and get updates from them. “We think you should be able to text message a business like you would send to a friend and get a quick response,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the gathering. Sounds fancy, but are chatbots the future of online businesses? “Chatbots as a concept is going to evolve and become meaningful. They will create more opportunities for new companies to explode from nothing into prominence.

They will create many new business strategy opportunities. In my opinion, they will play a large role in online business but not every role,” explains Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst, Adobe Digital Index. “We as humans are still very visual beings so I see them [chatbots] as part of the digital experience. I also note that when we talk to a machine, we tend to figure out how to speak to it very quickly and tend to ask it more specific questions such as asking for a specific brand in order to guarantee that the response is meaningful,” Gaffney told IANS. Digital is entering a new era where technology takes on human qualities. Examples of driverless cars, voice-activated homes and AI-powered chatbots fill our minds with joy, admiration and anticipation.

 

According to Mishra, it is too early to predict the serviceableness of chatbots in the industry because it is based on AI which works on the simulation of available words and sentences in a dictionary which is far behind human intelligence. While AI is being integrated into our lives — with Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa — there appears a long road ahead for bots. “Eventually, chatbots will be omnipresent but initially, they will be less than perfect. AI has many linguistic and sentiment-oriented programming requirements. Those requirements are going to be different in various regions of a country like India so a universal chatbot that covers the world with glory will be several years away,” Gaffney emphasises.

Till then, learn to respect chatbots like Microsoft’s Tay. These are machines but deserve some compassion so give them a chance to become part of your life.

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