The Turing test involves a conversation between a robot and a human with the final goal of having the robot indistinguishable from the human participant. Although that may still take a bit of time, conversations between humans and robots have been going on now for quite some time.
You may or may not have even realized it, but you may already have communicated with a robot. However, most of these robot conversationalists do not intend to trick you into thinking you are talking to a human. They’ve been around for some time now with the purpose to serve people.
What are Chatbots?
Calling Chatbots ‘robots’ may be debatable, but technically, they are complex programming that usually makes use of some sort of artificial intelligence. They use that artificial intelligence to hold logical conversations with people through a chat interface for a wide variety of purposes. You’ll often see them when you visit a site that has a customer service component and a pop-up appears in the bottom of the tab with a message like “Would you like to chat with us?” or “Need help finding something? A representative is waiting to help.”
It is debatable whether they can actually hold conversations because some prefer to call it “mimicking a conversation” since their responses are mostly automated, based on the keywords of the person they’re talking to.
What can Chatbots do?
Chatbots have been around for quite a while and as of now, their purposes are quite mundane. Most popularly, Chatbots have been employed by a number of companies to serve as a sort of customer service representative.
Instead of browsing through hundreds of products in a company’s catalogue, Chatbots have been advertised to be able to directly find what you are looking for based on what you tell it. You will then be able to proceed to transact an online purchase all in a single window, just by communicating with the assigned Chatbot.
Even for this single purpose, Chatbots can already be deemed as an important step for the future. The employment of Chatbots for this specific purpose can already fully automate a large portion of the customer representative service department, saving the company a considerable amount.
Not only will the Chatbots be always ready to serve a customer, since it is an online entity, it can theoretically serve as many customers even simultaneously.
Chatbots have also been said to do more than just help you buy products online. As long as these programs are connected to the internet, the possibilities are endless. A weatherbot can tell you about the weather and a newsbot can tell you about the news.
You are basically able to ask and tell a specific Chatbot anything you want and get the desired response as long as it is included in their programming. Xiaoice, a Chatbot developed by Microsoft, is a simple Chatbot released in China with the purpose of simply being a friend you can talk to.
Staying Authentic In A Virtual World
Chatbots can undoubtedly be beneficial for businesses. Leaving an entire department to a piece of programming saves up manpower and expenses, but the use of Chatbots comes with a price: authenticity. Although there are people who have no trouble dealing with Chatbots, there are some people who prefer communicating and transacting business with a real human being.
When a customer is speaking to a human customer representative as opposed to a Chatbot, the customer usually feels important, that they are of a high enough priority that the company would have a real human talk to them.
If a company has to use a Chatbot, then the easiest way to work around this is to make sure the Chatbot sounds as human as possible. The easiest way to humanize a Chatbot is to make sure its responses sound empathic enough for the customer.
Also, another simple way to preserve authenticity is to always offer the customer an avenue to speak to a human operator. This way, the Chatbot serves the purpose of answering simple questions and passing on issues that require human attention to an actual operator. The Chatbot in this instance helps to speed the process up, increase efficiency but still allow customers to access a human operator if needed.
With the technological revolution at hand, the use of Chatbots will pave the way for humans to get along with the concept of communicating with artificial intelligence. Although not perfect yet, the technology will always keep improving, learning from humans and eventually, might even successfully merge naturally and authentically into everyone’s daily lives.