History of chatbots
The idea of chatbots isn’t new at all. It all started in 1950 when Alan Turing came with an idea to test if a computer program could behave like a human. Every few years judges of Turing test have a conversation with best chatbots in the world. They try to evaluate if a person behind the keyboard is a chatbot or real person. If judges can’t distinguish one from the other, the machine wins.
If you want to know more about Turing Test, check a short film about winning „Most Human Human” award.
Let’s play with a chatbot
I use Poncho chatbot to get current weather. Each time I talk with Poncho, I feel like talking with a weather information. I may get some help with choosing proper wearings or taking an umbrella when going out. Sometimes the bot may be funny. For the sake of my lightning talk about chatbots, I didn’t know if I should call it „he” or „she” so I asked a few personal questions. The answer surprised me. Actually, if you try it yourself, you won’t be disappointed either.
It is not only about having a fun with a chatbot. More and more companies use bots to increase their revenue. If you want to find a hotel, you should check out SnapTravel. You will see much more possibilities when it comes to interface of the chat. It helps to book a hotel for holiday or a business trip.
Types of chatbots
Before creating a new chatbot, you should know that there are 2 types of them:
- Chatbots using heavy machine learning. You will identify them mostly by the possibility to ask questions using natural language. They usually try to behave like a human in the conversation. If you want to build that kind of chatbot, you will train it by providing it with exemplary conversations. The hardest part is to convert natural language into structured data. Your chatbot usually can be easily extended to use real questions provided by your users.
- Chatbots using a set of rules. You will recognise them by the need to ask very specific questions from the list, like, e.g. „What city would you like to go?” There is a tree of possible questions and answers. Though it may be easier to develop that kind of chatbot, you will not feel like talking with a human.
With the experience of few decades in AI and chatbots, we are going into a new phase of user applications using conversational interface.
I agree with Shane Mac – CEO of Assist, that:
„We have to unlearn everything we learned the past 20 years to create an amazing experience in this new browser.”
Nowadays, chatbots become a place where we can talk topics from weather or jokes to business or health. Based on the topic, you should pick the type of chatbot: smarter one, talking like a human with help of AI or rule-based, behaving like an insurance agent, asking you simple questions and providing you with simple answers. It’s all a matter of what you want to achieve in your application. Sometimes, simpler is good enough.