The Future of Chatbots

The Future of Chatbots

Automation is becoming more of a factor now in business. An example of this is the rise of chatbots. They are programs that are designed to carry out simple and common conversations with people who are looking for a particular product or service. It seems that this concept is relatively new considering that we are heading into an AI boom, and internet technology is becoming much more fast, powerful, and lightweight.

Businesses have used chatbots to take most of the repetitiveness out of the workload for their employees. When customers call in for simple needs, the chatbot can access that data to assist the customers, while employees can focus on bigger tasks.

The History of the Chatbot

Eliza
Screenshot of the Eliza chatbot – Source: medium.com

In 1966, Joseph Weizenbaum created a program to demonstrate the communication with computers and humans. The program used pattern-matching to hold conversations with people. People would often chat about personal problems or feelings and conversations with ELIZA seemed relatively natural. Although Weizenbaum disagreed with the popular belief, people began speculating the possibility of human interactions with one another, and humans interactions with computers will be the same. This technology sparked the movement towards chatbots and AI.

Jabberwacky
Screenshot of Jabberwacky

Created in 1988, British programmer Rollo Carpenter built a chatterbot called Jabberwacky. Jabberwacky was built to be a more entertaining and humorous compared to its predecessors. The objective for Jabberwacky was to build an AI based on human interactions. Unlike previous chatbots, Jabberwacky was to become voice operated and in turn become integrated with robots to help keep people company at home. 

A.L.I.C.E.
Screenshot of A.L.I.C.E

Inspired by ELIZA, in 1995 a program named A.L.I.C.E. (Artificial Linguistic Internet Computer Entity) was created. Alice was designed to simulate conversations with people over the internet. Alice had a personality of its own and would disclose personal information whenever asked.

The program utilized an XML Schema known as AIML (Artificial Intelligence Markup Language)to help define the conversation rules. During this time, Alice became a popular chatbot despite how limited some of the conversations were compared to other chatbots.

Smarter Child
Screenshot of SmarterChild Chatbot – Source: Botwiki

In 2000, ActiveBuddy created an intelligent agent called SmarterChild. It was implemented across platforms such as AOL Instant Messenger and MSN Messenger. It was to be used to serve conversations for multiple database applications such as news, weather , and sports. After receiving a patent in 2002, it was one of the most widely used intelligent assistants in the industry.

Siri
Siri in iOS – Source: cnet.com

In 2010, Apple revolutionized chatbots and personal assistants as we know them today. Sri was designed to respond to not only text but, voice. Because Siri had loads of voice commands through voice recognition, it can be integrated across different apps and features such as music, SMS, and images. Users were also able to communicate directly with Siri and can hold decent conversations with the user.

Google Now
Google Now on Android – Source: pcworld.com

As an answer to Apple’s Siri, Google releases their personal assistant to help expand mobile searches. It was created to retrieve appropriate  information based on time of day, weather, location, etc. Through the expansion of personalizing user experience, Google Now has been extended throughout many devices, and can give suggested responses to your messaging and searches.

Alexa
Amazon Alexa

Alexa is a virtual personal assistant developed by Amazon to use across their Amazon products. It is designed to allow users access some of Amazon’s features with only the use of their voice. Not only can it retrieve weather update, but can also place orders or set controls throughout your house. Much like Siri, it can hold decent conversations directly with the user.

Why are chatbots becoming more of a big deal now? 

As technology continues to grow at an incredibly high rate, we are continuing to find solutions for problems within businesses in terms of efficiency. For years, people have spent more time understanding how computers work.

It is now getting to the point where we are trying to get computers to understand humans. You may have heard about how robots are threatening to steal basic jobs. The number of jobs that robots will replace will continue to grow as long as computers continue to learn about how human behavior work.

For retail, chatbots are becoming more prevalent. It has been shown that customers are more comfortable with talking to a chatbots rather than a live human. They find that not only can chatbots get the basic jobs done but it minimizes human errors and disconnects. It’s also good for the business because they can channel all of that manpower elsewhere. 

The technology for chatbots are becoming ore common and available to the public to use. A large number of these tools are open source, so the rate of further developing these AI tools are going to increase exponentially.