7 September 2017 | Sergey Bludov
Chatbots and AI-Powered Conversational Interfaces: A New World to be Conquered
"Open the pod bay doors, HAL."
"I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."
— excerpt from Stanley Kubrick's classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The immersion of artificial intelligence (AI) is growing exponentially across all industries, transforming the manner in which companies conduct business, redefining the daily lives of an increasing number of people, and revealing the technology's potential to change the core fabric of our societies. In addition to the rising importance of AI in creative endeavors, such as the music and film industries, artificial intelligence is one of the primary keys to achieving success in the evolving world of chatbots.
The Rise of Conversational User Interfaces
Although chatbots have been around for quite a while, the maturing development of cognitive services and AI cements the potential for a far more advanced level of bots to come to fruition in the near future. Of course, many commercially-available chatbots already exist, such as Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa, and the popularity of these and other similar conversational user interfaces is only increasing over time, with more than 34,000 new bots built in 2016 alone.
AI has come a long way in recognizing human behavior, including better understanding the content and context of questions, thereby making the technology an incredibly powerful tool for improving the customer experience while reducing costs dramatically. In fact, the most advanced AI-driven chatbots are already at the point where customers may not be able to tell whether they are speaking with a human or a computer.
Failures Are Crucial for Learning
Even developmental failures can provide crucial information that helps guide technological innovators in taking the next valuable step. One excellent example of this phenomenon is the recent controversial news that researchers from the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research lab (FAIR) discovered that their chatbots - known as "dialog agents" - were creating their own language. In an effort to improve the conversational skills of the dialog agents, machine learning algorithms were used to allow the bots to freely converse. However, researchers were surprised to see the chatbots deviating from the scripted norms, which led them to begin communicating in an entirely new language, created without input from humans. Although most of the language appeared to be gibberish, the abilities and direction taken by these bots illustrates a big step forward for AI, marking an exciting moment in the technology's developmental scope.
They ‘Talk’ Among Us
Humans seem to be innately fascinated with human-like, AI-driven machines, even when the results are disastrous, such as the infamous computer HAL from the Stanley Kubrickclassic film2001: A Space Odyssey, who turns against his human colleagues in an act of defiance. These days, the number of non-threatening, AI-powered chatbots available to consumers is growing at a rapid pace, with many entertaining and useful bots to choose from, including the remarkably human-like Mitsuku; Right Click, the AI-powered chatbot that creates websites; Poncho, the Messenger bot with an expertise in weather; and Insomno bot, designed to provide fun and interesting company for people who have trouble sleeping at night.
And this is truly just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential for AI-chatbot collaboration in the Media and Entertainment industries. The staggering quantity of tasks that could be automated by utilizing AI, combined with the potential for a massive expansion of communication with fans, content delivery, and comprehensive customer care, clearly illustrates the fact that many of the potential applications in media and entertainment have yet to be realized. By utilizing Artificial Neural Networks, Natural Language Understanding (NLU), and Natural Language Processing (NLP), AI developers are on the cusp of unleashing chatbots with an entirely new level of sophistication and abilities, and everyone stands to benefit from this technological evolution. Combined with voice user interfaces, the future of bots is definitely bright.