What Happened To Chatbots?
‘Innovative’, ‘revolutionary’, ‘transformative’ – journalists and bloggers rely on these words to label emerging digital technology. They claim new inventions will make our current everyday online tools obsolete. One resounding example of ‘innovative’ technology which ultimately failed was the chatbot. First said to be leading the charge towards replacing basic customer services, this interactive technology was designed to save money, resources and time. In theory, these chatting robots would revolutionise our relationship with businesses, automating the online help desk.
Although businesses tried desperately to implement chatbots into their services, the attempt did not last long. They were nowhere near sophisticated enough at the time. Through interactions, both text and speech, countless humans experience the frustration of a breakdown in communication. The misinterpreting, awkward pleasantries, and the never-ending conversational loops were too much for most people.
Silicon Valley’s hype machine churned out chatbots at the same rate people were just grasping at the concept. Unfortunately for a few developers, chatbots were sold to the world too early, but this does not mean they were abandoned. Take a look at this video of Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai demonstrating their Google Duplex, a digital personal assistant which can make phone calls on behalf users.
However, people don’t like having t engage with automated messages because the chance of error is too high, and it doesn’t add any convenience. For the user, chatbots at their best are only as reliable as a human being, not better (for now).
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