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The Evolution of Chatbots as Important Tools for Consumers and Businesses/
Chatbots have become one of the most visible and flawed applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning. They are present everywhere from online assistants like Microsoft’s Cortana to messaging applications like Slack and home applications like Amazon’s Alexa. With the increase in corporate emphasis on the importance of artificial intelligence, chatbots have become a particularly important AI application since they interact directly with consumers. The article explores how chatbots have evolved into important tools for consumers, businesses, and entire industries.
Chatbots Seek to Mimic Human Interaction and Intelligence
Chatbots seek to solve the technical problem of how to construct a machine that can reliably mimic human interaction and intelligence. This problem is a version of the Turing test, which tests whether a machine can display human characteristics and intelligence. In building chatbots that come increasingly close to passing the Turing test, engineers can create better user experiences and drive significant value for a diverse range of companies.
The Brief History of ELIZA
One of the first chatbots, ELIZA, was developed in 1966 by computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. ELIZA was designed to mimic human interaction through pattern recognition. However, ELIZA could not react to queries in their full context. Though Alexa is a huge leap forward from ELIZA, chatbots have yet to meet their full potential.
Industry Viewpoint: Avanade – Augmenting Human Workers is Key to AI Success
The focus on chatbot development is part of a broader push for innovation in artificial intelligence. Companies believe AI can be transformative for how they engage customers and empower their employees if applied in the right ways. However, the complexity of building an effective chatbot requires data sufficient for the chatbot to understand, reason about, and respond to a wide range of contexts with workers and customers. Avanade case study shows that the interactive, smart humanoid robot “Pepper” has created tangible value for a number of businesses.
Industry Viewpoint: Agent.ai
Shay Chinn, Chief Technology Officer of Agent.ai, expresses similar views of the current state of chatbots. Most chatbots are relatively primitive because they are only capable of accurately responding to basic, heavily scripted commands. However, Chinn sees a bright future for chatbots, where AI can augment human customer service reps, leading to AI-assisted customer service offered 24/7. In 10 years, AI will run most customer service interactions, and in 15 years, there may be personalized chatbots and chatbot-to-chatbot communication.
Looking Forward: One Bot to Rule Them All?
Chatbots have a long way to go before they realize their full potential. However, with billions of dollars of annual investment and significant human capital committed to their development, chatbots will ultimately generate significant future value in both corporate and consumer settings. The open questions remain, such as how might personalized chatbots manifest going forward, and will one company or product truly emerged above the rest.
The article explored the evolution of chatbots, their technical problems, and their potential to create better user experiences and drive significant value for a diverse range of companies. Although chatbots have yet to meet their full potential, they represent a powerful tool that deserves significant attention and investment. Chatbots will only become more consequential in how businesses and consumers interact.