Intro to Chatbots: Where Tech Meets AI

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Intro to Chatbots: Where Tech Meets AI

Since long, the word ‘chatbots’ has remained quite a buzz. So what is it? Where did it originate? How does it work? What is its potential? We shall discuss answers to all these questions here.

What is Chatbots?

Firstly, we shall define chatbots. Simply put, chatbots is a computer program that can communicate with a human much like a human itself. It is based on artificial intelligence meaning if a user says x, it responds with y. Another driven technology is machine learning. This means, every time you communicate with chatbots, it gets smarter and smarter.

A very popular example of chatbots is Alexa. The moment you say, “Alexa what time is it?” and you receive an answer to your question. Usually, chatbots are based on text conversation on a basic level. But voice chatbots are also available these days. Applications based on chatbots include:

  • Uber for booking a taxi
  • CNN to deliver up-to-date news
  • Pizza Hut for ordering a pizza
  • Sephora for offering beauty tips
  • Bank of America for connecting finances with customers

Where did it originate?

The history of chatbots dates back to 1966 when a computer program called ELIZA was developed by Joseph Weizenbaum. It imitated the language of a psychotherapist with around 200 lines of code.

In 1972, chatbots called PARRY was introduced which was a more advanced form of ELIZA. It inexplicably simulated a person with paranoid schizophrenia.

In 1988, Rollo Carpenter started the Jabberwocky project – a voice-operated entertainment AI chatbots. It had the goal of moving a text-based system to voice operated. In 2001, an intelligent chatbot named SMARTERCHILD was introduced with features such as data access and fun personalized conversation. It was considered a precursor to Apple’s Siri and Samsung’s S Voice.

Apple introduced Siri in 2010 and paved a way for all later AI bots. Since then, Google Now in 2012, Alexa in 2015 and many more have made a way through the market Giant companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook are contributing resources to deliver interactions between consumers and machines with feasible business models.

How does a Chatbots work?

Chatbots on a basic level work on a specific set of rules, triggers, and flows to respond commands. For example, when you communicate with simple chatbots asking “weather forecast today” it will reply with the information about weather.

A more advanced form uses machine learning to understand and improve the communication process. For example, if you ask, “What’s happening in India today?” It will reply with the latest news headlines for India. This type of chatbots gets better over time by learning and understanding from all the conversations.

The use of natural language in the process makes look like chatbots are simple. But well, it takes a number of complicated algorithms, analytics, APIs, UX and optimizations to make chatbots.

Applications of Chatbots:

Businesses are making use of chatbots by being available to the customers at the right place, right time with the right set of information.  With increasing research on Natural Language Processing, artificial intelligence and machine learning; chatbots are becoming more efficient. They are widely used in the following industries:

  • Sales and Marketing: Chatbots are a powerful tool when you want to reach out to potential customers.
  • Finance: Chatbots can give an immediate update on the ongoing dips and raises in the finance market and communicate about the bank services.
  • News: News chatbots like CNN and Street journal are introduced for understanding user preferences and delivering results based on their choices.
  • Education: It can serve as a teaching assistant by giving automated answers to students’ questions.
  • Psychology: Latest invention in psychology is SimSensei, a virtual psychotherapist that gives a full psychotherapist test to its users.
  • Medicine: Pharma companies are taking leverage of chatbots to help patients track daily medication, behavior coaching and more.

Potential of chatbots:

Nowadays, consumers will not have to surf websites and search engines to find the information they need. Instead of, they will be communicating with intelligent chatbots whenever they need. Because chatbots are using natural language and behind them is machine learning so that it will lower our dependence on screens to receive feedback from a machine. Who knows in future children may joke about how we had screens on our phones and couldn’t talk to the machines we use!

What’s your opinion on chatbots? Please share your thought on a comment section.

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