Have you watched the film ‘Her’, a science fiction movie directed by Spike Jonze? It’s a wonderful tale that revolves around a depressed man Theodore who feels pathetically lonely. Out of desperation, he purchases an OS (Operating System) with Artificial Intelligence (AI) designed to hit a conversation with humans based on their responses.
It’s built to adapt and evolve. He chooses an OS with a female voice (Samantha) to kill his loneliness. Gradually he gets attached to Samantha and believes she is a human to an extent that he gets possessive about her. But, the communication between the two; one a machine and other an emotional human, evolves and Theodore matures. His relationship with his closed ones improves.
This is Spike’s take on Artificial Intelligence and soon our world might also change in this similar manner due to the advent of chatbots. These days everyone wants to use chatbots or bots as they are fondly referred to.
Chatbot as a service registers your preferences and problems to give a solution based on the past conversations or communications. Many people think that bots will replace the involvement of humans. And, in fact, they are here to make your life simpler, though we need to decide to what extent.
Bots have been around for quite a while – ELIZA which psychoanalyzes people was created way back in the 60s. But, since the advent of apps, bots have stepped in to make people believe that they are talking or interacting with a human.
Let me explain how bots can change your lifestyle!
You visit a website to buy shoes for yourself; there you would have to struggle to look around to find something of your choice. If the website has a bot inbuilt, you would simply message or tell the bot about what you are looking out for. You can now converse with the bot and share your preferences. This user experience is similar to visiting a retail store and sharing your preferences with a salesperson.
The next time you visit the same site, the bot has registered your preferences (in terms of budget, size, colour, etc) and would suggest the footwear that fits your choice. Now, do you see how a chatbot becomes your personal shopper in a matter of seconds?
As you converse more and more with a bot, it would understand you better to give the best experience. Bots have the ability to personalize. This is primarily the reason why bots are going to be loved by everyone. A bot is like your personal assistant to get the best for you.
When you search Google for ‘daily news’, it will provide you endless links of news articles from where you got to choose. The search results aren’t personalized. But, with chatbots, it would sieve the news which you will find definitely interesting based on your preferences.
Bots simply learn and adapt to what YOU like based on logic and history of communication. For an instance, let’s look at how chatbots can be used to get the best healthcare experience.
Bots can improve people’s healthcare experience and let healthcare professionals care for their patients much more than before. You as a patient will reach doctors with common health issues through questions asked and received through a chatbot.
When the bot is unable to tackle your question or finds any unusual symptom, it will forward your message to a healthcare professional. So from that point, the bot pauses and transitions to a conversation with the doctor. Now doctors will be able to focus on patients who need more attention. This kind of automation will help to keep a follow up with patients.
Facebook is eagerly looking forward to opening a chatbot store that connects to Facebook Messenger. So what does this imply to us and the marketers? Now, instead of downloading a particular company’s app to interact over the phone, you can use the chatbot through Messenger.
Futurist Gerd Leonhard shares his view on technology impacting humans and cautions us that technology will impact our biology via genome editing and artificial intelligence. Technology won’t just be a tool to achieve something but, humans will become tools. Sounds like a dangerous proposition, doesn’t it? But, there is a solution to it, since we humans have created bots and not the other way round.
He says we need specialists so that we intelligently transition to the new age of machines. As everything gets automated, machines will get smarter and humans will get dumber. Like the cockpit challenge where pilots might forget how to fly due to the excessive automation and we, humans, forget simple tasks. Machines will take over simple tasks that otherwise humans would do like getting directions, medical diagnosis, or even finding mates. So humans need to understand which tasks should be automated.
Remember, as William Gibson (an American-Canadian who pioneered the science fiction sub-genre cyberpunk) said technologies are morally neutral till we apply them. So it’s in our hands how we incorporate technology into our lives and to what extent we want it to change the way we live, when we are aware of the growth of chatbots will disrupt how we live.
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