Bot Designers!  Are you in touch with reality?

Bot Designer creates chat bots for a “flowing conversation”, so why are bots not capable of understanding humans?? Let’s find out what is wrong in the attitude of Bots Designers.

Here is an activity for you – ask a bot designer “why do everyday users need bots?” Well, I’ve asked this question to quite a few bot designers,  some face to face, and some on international online forums. The answers confirmed that the bot designers (at least the ones consulted with) are completely detached from reality.

Amongst the array of replies I received, two struck out. The first – “so that you will get a service in the format of a flowing conversation” (we shall see about that…). The second, and most mediocre, if I do say so myself, reply was “a bot will ward off the need for downloading an app”.

Considering the first answer – after checking many bots, one thing can be stated: there is nothing flowing about a bot that is not capable of understanding a human, provides annoying and repetitive replies and creates the feeling that if it was a human, I would most likely have the urge to slap him, or even more so, send him to a psychiatric evaluation. On the other hand, if it was a human, I would probably not get as annoyed and not end up slapping him.

Avoiding the need to download an app…

It's fun to be an ostrich

The Ostrich Fluff Beak Bird Stupid Ostrich Head

As mentioned, the most absurd answer was the second one “in this way you can use a service without downloading an app”. Hello? Is there anybody out there???  The Bot writer needs to realize that they are getting it wrong! The fact that there is no need to download an app is an advantage for them – not for me.

They are supposed to be the ones trying to reach me. They are the ones who will earn large sums of money if I, and others like me, use their service. Surely if I don’t have to download an app, it will be easier for THEM to get to me. Therefore, the fact that they use their own agenda as if it was beneficial to me, proves that they spend too much time in florescent lit offices. Bot writers and designers are not in touch with reality, and that is probably the reason why almost all their bots function in an unseemly manner (by the way, if any of you readers know of a worthy bot I will be happy to receive a link).

I am not familiar with all the bots in the world and this field constantly develops and improves. However, after numerous interactions with a large number of online bot chats, I currently find all bots to be useless. Not only in comparison to human interaction but also in comparison to the general functions of an internet website, which provides an easier, more coherent, more intuitive and faster experience. So, let’s ask again: what do we need the online bot chat for?

A quick and effective serviceFinding a unique niche

To present the online bot chat as useful, it must provide the user with an added value, an experience that cannot be found elsewhere. The bot companies should come up with original and creative ideas in areas like how to define the bot, what are the bot’s relative advantages, and how will it answer an actual necessity rather than act merely as a transient gimmick. Each company must devise a specific niche that is applicable for it. Even though the internet chat bot has many disadvantages, it also has many advantages; as a computer – and in contrary to a human advisor, it can analyse an enormous amount of information within no time at all.

For example, an internet chat bot can act as a personal agent, or as a promoter of services or products. Bots can also use gamification, and by that, add an entertainment dimension (in some articles that appear in this blog I suggest specific ideas along with general examples of ways in which bots should function).

Use of pragmatics and discourse analysis towards a better understating of the user

Even after finding the right attributes and an effective niche for the bot, it will still be just the beginning. The first condition for an internet chat bot to function, is for it to understand the user. This is crucial in terms of not only literal understanding, but also getting a grasp of the contexts – for which the programmers must combine knowledge and an understanding of pragmatics as well as discourse analysis. For those who are not familiar with these terms, note that both theories deal with language analysis on various levels: basic verbal context, social context and behavioural/psychological context.

When an ordinary person has a conversation with an internet chat bot, they are not likely to follow the rules of pragmatics. During daily conversations, people might use a verb instead of a noun, use many adjectives, shift the attention to themselves rather than the topic etc. in addition, in the broader context of conversation; people often change topics, integrate irrelevant themes into the conversation, say things at the wrong time etc.

Knowing how to use a platform such as API.AI or WIT, is not sufficient when it comes to understanding a conversation with the users, this is because these platforms provide only basic technology. The bot designer should master a few layers of text analysis:

* A verbal language understanding.

* An understanding of the sentences’ position within the broader context.

* A socio-psychological insight as to the motives and intentions of the user.

* Attention to social dialect (many groups use different forms of expressions).

Script Writing – Architecture of discourse

The use of pragmatics in a discourse is the foundation. To construct an effective online computer chat, there is a need for a creative design of complexed discourse patterns, whilst considering the psychological dimension. I have never encountered an online computer chat with which one could tell that it was designed by a person who knows the architecture of discourse, or even the basic understanding of scriptwriting or pragmatics. They’ve probably never even heard of such terms. I’ll repeat for everybody to remember –  scriptwriting, pragmatics or discourse analysis.

Humour

Speaking of scriptwriting, I find it important to mention one last thing to the companies who make bots. It is not desired for the bot to tell lame jokes. I have vast experience when it comes to television production of different genres. Television has an abundance of extremely talented writers and stand-up comedians, who work in professional media organisations/editorials which incorporate sophisticated creatives and meticulous editing into their work, and even these people – with all their experience and expertise – are not always successful when it comes to making the audience laugh. So, take this in – your consumers will probably not buy tickets for a stand-up comedy show hosted by “the funniest IT guy in the office who cracks jokes at lunch time”.

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