Talking to Google is more fun than talking to human, wait, what? That was the thought behind creating CHATBOTS. Let’s me tell you what are they? Do you remember asking the purpose of life to Google after having a frustrated day at office? And it replies gracefully, to live forever, that’s what it is. Chatbot is nothing, but a computer program to simulate conversation with human users.
Also referred to as artificial conversational entities, bots, talk bots or chatterboxes, the main purpose of these simulations is to fool the user into thinking that the textual or auditory output has been produced by a human. ELIZA, ALICE, Jabberwacky, and Cleverbot are some of popular chatbots.
Conversational Interfaces are the new hottie of digital product design. They are becoming the first point of contact in messengers, dating apps, IVR’s, and automated online assistants at call centres.
UX will play a bigger role in giving a face to these hidden voices, to make the world more interactive.
The Era of Talking Machines
ELIZA was the first chatbot designed ever, by Joseph Weizenbaum in as early as 1966. It was a brilliant AI and most of the conversations with ELIZA used to be remarkably human!! It couldn’t do most of the things what current generation chatbots are capable of. But it definitely sets the path for the future chatbots to evolve.
Did you know that most of the chatbot designs currently available in market have been designed by folks with a background in performing arts? ‘X.ai’ is as startup, whose chatbot intelligently schedules meetings via emails; and their first AI designer Anna Kelsey was a theatre artist and studied folklore mythology. Companies hire such designers because, it helps them mould a character better.
Personality is really important for a bot, because if someone uses a rude language like ‘Shut up’, the bot should be intelligent to withdraw politely from the conversation. People know they are talking to a robot, but still it should make them say thank you to it. That’s the kind of AI we are talking about.
“People love messing with robots, but on the other hand, people constantly sent nice notes to Amy” Kelsey says.
Facebook ‘M’ for instance, is a chatbot-personal assistant, available inside the messenger. It wants you to treat it like a genie, and can help you from buying a tablet to a car. And the team behind M says that, they don’t want to restrict on what people would ask a chatbot.
Chatbots Awesome, But Human Still Needed
Chatbots currently available in the market are facing imperfect voice recognition troubles, which makes them unpleasant to use. Google is working to build a better AI virtual assistant since last year. The folks at Google, sees a huge scope for chatbots in the search engine. Especially it makes a lot of sense now when everyone is looking for better search alternatives.
UX is going to revolutionize the future of chatbots blending personal assistant like features with conversational functions. But it also comes with a risk. Intelligent chatbots are gonna blur the line between messaging a friend and chat bot. Spammers will also find it as an easy tool to increase cyber bullying and thefts.
Chatbots will soon find use in eCommerce sites and apps, customer service, in-messengers and other virtual assistants, and therefore instead of talking to a screen, people should have feel of a real human interaction. How chatbots are going to behave in a real-time conversation is important, but the personality is crucial too.
The idea of chatbots started not as a feature, but as a unique experience to add more value to user journey.
The next phase has started with a strong focus on usability, and UX will be a key component to elevate chatbot interactions by giving it a personality that can be expressed through words, tones and expressions.