What is a chatbot and what can it do?


03 Apr What is a chatbot and what can it do?

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is a piece of software designed to help complete a simple task based on a question. Using advanced learning techniques and AI it tries to determine what you are trying to achieve. A simple chatbot is SIRI. You ask SIRI a question and SIRI will try and understand what you said and complete it with a task, such as adding a date in to the calendar or search the internet for an answer to your question.

But chatbots are now beginning to take over the customers service role for many companies. Trying to stream line the business and using all that data collected from the bots to improve the system. It is a great idea to begin with, cheaper for businesses not hiring staff to answer calls and all the data that is being collected can be used to help find common issues with in the business.

Chatbots have been around for many years which started out as a simple program that would respond with answers when you typed in to a chat field a certain word. IIRC was a chat room based system that allowed people to talk in an open room a little like Yahoo had, but for geekier people. These rooms had bots that monitored the rooms for bad behavior, swear words, abusing the chat by spamming the same message. But these bots where the original chatbots. Simple but tasked with a job which is successfully completed.

What can they do?

Today we have far more advanced chatbots that can order a pizza, send a message for you or book a flight to Paris. A good example is Alexa by Amazon, you can say certain words that will create an action and Alexa will complete the task, from playing music, buying from the Amazon and re-ordering a product you have previously bought. What we do face today with chatbots is the lack of self awareness to an end users personality. If we are talking AI and Machine Learning then a bot should effectively think for itself. Understandably with films like Terminator, The Matrix and iRobot we can see the blockbuster’s version of artificial intelligence which will try to wipe out the human race. Which has in turn made us fear what could happen with real artificial intelligence.

Currently we are stuck with the common command list, a list of command words the bots are listening out for to trigger a set list of results. Not much has moved on from those early days of IIRC chat room bots that did exactly the same thing.

Now, don’t get me wrong the application of chatbots can be one that could change the way we interact with technology and how we live our lives. But right now I think we still in those early days of trying to move away from command lists and for the bots to think for themselves.

Real people

As i mentioned before, quite a lot of companies including Facebook are moving all customer care over to chatbots which seems a very technical way to do things and why not? The tech giants are following a trend of AI (which they have tried time and time again over the years) but that leaves one big issue, the end user.

A bot has no personality, it does not show sympathy it cannot understand a situation and  in times of need a person needs to talk to an operator. A chatbot does not have all the answers, may neither do the human counter-part, but with a human they can find out the answer, as a chatbot will just keep you in a loop of the same question answer with no real solution to your problem.

At the end of the day we are heading in to a more technical World with people glued to phones and the application and advancements finally being made in AI seems to promote a future of self driving cars and small cylinders in our living rooms listening to our conversations just in case you say a keyword.


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