What is a chatbot?
You have probably heard about them a number of times on the internet, but what actually is a Chatbot?. Well, A chatbot is basically a piece of software that can have conversations with people. Chatbots can use Audio or texts to carry out conversations. Chatbots are designed to stimulate a convincing environment of another human taking to you. Chatbots are commonly used for practical purposes like customer service or information inquiries.
Chatbots vary in complexity, while some bots have a highly sophisticated language processing system, others simply check the input sentence for keywords and reply from a database. “Chatbot” comes from the term “ChatterBot” was originally coined by Michael Mauldin (creator of the first chatbot, Julia) in 1994 to describe these conversational programs.
And we will find that the first conversational bot was written in the USA in 1966. It was implemented by Joseph Weizenbaum, a computer scientist of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was named Eliza. The chatbot misled people because of how authentic the communication with it was.
In the early ’90s, the Turing test, which allows determining the possibility of thinking by computers, was developed. It consists of the following steps. A person talks to both the person and the computer. The goal is to find out who his interlocutor is — a person or a machine. This test is carried out in our days and many conversational programs have barely coped with it successfully.
As of 2018, the whole world is in contact with one chatbot or the other. From Google Assistant to Amazon Alexa, chatbots are all around us for various purposes including; conversational commerce (e-commerce via chat), education, entertainment, finance, health, news, and productivity.
Although chatbots perform the same function, they are grouped into three groups depending on how they get their answers and how they receive information. The different groups are easier to understand if you know how they work.
How does a chatbot work?
Thinking about it, you’re probably wondering just how these chatbots are able to understand us and deliver answers. Well everyone asks those questions because there’s seemingly no end to how far chatbot technology can go.
To understand how chatbots work, you need to take a step back and look at how each type gets its desired results.
Rules-based chatbot software executes pre-determined actions based on “playbooks” you set up on the back end of the user interface. Much like a virtual assistant, rules-based chatbot technology can act based on clicks’ actions, such as “Yes” vs. “No”, or by recognizing a particular keyword or group of keywords. For example, you could set up a rules-based chatbot to respond if someone selects “Red” or “Green” but also if they respond with “I want red shoes” and your target keyword is “red shoes”.
A.I. chatbots use artificial intelligence & natural language processing technology to understand sentence structure, then process that information & progressively get better at answering the question at hand. Instead of relying on a pre-determined outcome designed by a human, AI chatbots first understand what your question is; then once they understand your intent, they deliver an answer that they think is the right answer based on existing data. Over time, and by observing correct & incorrect answers, the machine gets better at understanding what the ‘right’ answer is (examples are Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa). This is why AI chatbots, although powerful, aren’t right for everyone because they require a training period, and generally require more effort to get started. However, once they understand your business well, they can be incredibly powerful.
We typically see the adoption of AI chatbots for enterprises, however, there are exceptions like e-commerce and other high volume industries that require scale earlier.
Live chat is a chat technology that sits on your website or product and acts as a window to your team for your customer. Live chat software has some routing capability to assign real-time conversations, but overall it’s pretty simple. When someone wants to talk and your team is online, live chat connects someone from your team to help address that person’s issue.
Uses of chatbots
Chatbots are amusing pieces of technology and different people can find different uses for different chatbots.
- Productivity. Chatbots provide assistance or access to information quickly and efficiently.
- Entertainment. Chatbots amuse people by giving them funny tips, they also help killing time when users have nothing to do.
- Social and relational factors. Chatbots fuel conversions and enhance social experiences. Chatting with bots also helps to avoid loneliness, gives a chance to talk without being judged and improves conversational skills.
- Curiosity. The novelty of chatbots sparks curiosity. People want to explore their abilities and to try something new.
Like with every good thing on earth, Chatbots have a dark side. People create malicious chatbots to con and cheat others on the internet.
Malicious chatbots are frequently used to fill chat rooms with spam and advertisements, by mimicking human behavior and conversations or to entice people into revealing personal information, such as bank account numbers. They are commonly found on Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger, and other instant messaging protocols. There has also been a published report of a chatbot used in a fake personal ad on a dating service’s website.
Tay, an AI chatbot that learns from a previous interaction, caused major controversy due to it being targeted by internet trolls on Twitter. The bot was exploited, and after 16 hours began to send extremely offensive Tweets to users. This suggests that although the bot learned effectively from experience, adequate protection was not put in place to prevent misuse.
If a text-sending algorithm can pass itself off as a human instead of a chatbot, its message would be more credible. Therefore, human-seeming chatbots with well-crafted online identities could start scattering fake news that seems plausible, for instance making false claims during a presidential election. With enough chatbots, it might be even possible to achieve artificial social proof.
With all the advancements in modern technology, the future of chatbots is as bright as ever. Who knows, someday, maybe a bot would actually be able to pass the Turning test completely and pass off as a real person!