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Smart Talking Bot and Smart Computer Chat are the next world’s revolution in terms of technology and society. But who should design them?

About the bizarre market failure of the global bots industry.

Let’s break it down.

What are we expecting of the bots? To be able to converse like humans.

Who designs the bots? IT experts

What do IT experts understand about conversing like humans?? Well, you tell me…

Have you ever encountered the phenomenon in the right image? Often were surfing through web a window pops up. The window is an attempt for conversation with lines like ‘hey, I’m Ashley. How may I help you?’ Ashley then goes onto describe several promotional deals and after spending some considerable amount of time in hope of talking to her, we realize that Ashley would just try to get our phone number, and cannot do anything else other than that.

Well ‘ashley’ is a chat bot or simply a “bot”. This sort of bot is designed to have natural and continuous conversations with us and we have the advantage of even using informal language, because the bot is designed to understand it. The most sophisticated bots of this sort are Siri by Apple, Alexa by Amazon and Google Now (Google talking robot). These bots are actually a smart talking bot, programmed to listen to us, understand us and talk to us. In recent years the smart talking bot has been adopted by businesses, small corporations and even retail and customer services. Many believe that a smart talking bot, which uses an artificial intelligence, is the next world’s revolution in terms of technology and society.

Why is smart computer chat needed?

Unemployment Bureau queue

From a business perspective, smart computer chat is valuable, because it is (should be) capable of saving expenses and gives a better service. Consider this example: A travel agency who has hired twenty five representatives. Now if they were to cut down even only five of them and replace them with bots, not only will they save the salaries of those representatives, they will also be freed from the burden of social security, travel expenses, office space etc. In business these things hold great importance.

Would the smart computer chat get us all fired?

Every walk of life is evolving with the passage of time. It would be surprising if most of us remember the occupation of a telephone operator. Their job basically was to sit in front of a panel where different cords been attached. Each cord represented a telephone line. They used to book calls from one telephone line and transfer it to its receiving end. In the past, there also used to be “experts of Spindle and Distaff”, terms that nowadays many don’t even know the meaning of. Speaking of unemployment, that is unpredictable. Many believed the industrial revolution would be the cause of massive unemployment. And how about the PC revolution that began 30 years ago? Still, the rate of employment now is the highest ever. Yes, the bots will replace humans in certain occupations, but along with the flow of time new jobs will be created too. And to be honest, whether we like it or not, the bots are here, and no one is going to stop them…

Technology at present

This aspect is yet in its initial stages. The bots we see today are a nice gimmick. However, they are not really usefull. The purpose of their creation was to maintain a flow of conversation, but they do the exact opposite. They are good for small things like recommending recipes, or promoting deals. Other bots provide us with the weather, sports etc. They can help arranging meetings in our diary, but the scope of their capabilities is limited. There is still a lot to achieve in this ordeal.

Current situation

Other bots provide us with the weather, sports etc. When it comes to ordering pizza through a bot, it is usually not effective. The whole process is extremely time taking and frustrating which makes it look easier to order pizza from the website, or simply over the phone.

If we are being critical, then it won’t be wrong to mention the poor humor skills these bots try to showcase at times. They tell petty jokes which if a human ever told, we would prefer cutting contact with them. The only reason we sometimes slightly smile, is because we remember that the joke came from a bot.

Forecast?

Are we still far from the technology of creating efficient bots? The answer is – it depends. If we expect our bots to act humanly, which means we want to erase the lines between humans and bots, then there is still a long way to go for that. However, if we expect our bots to be simply efficient for sales and marketing or customer services, then that should not be a problem with the current available technology. The only thing that needs to be done for that, is to utilize the technology correctly.

This brings us to another valuable question -“who design the bots?” The answer might shed light on this bizarre phenomenon. 

The strange market failure of the bots’ world

Let’s break it down.

What are we expecting of the bots? To be able to converse like humans.

Who designs the bots? IT experts.

What do IT experts understand about conversing like humans?? Well…that is a looming question.

A happy IT guy

Taking it further, let’s suppose you have a group of friends: Dana, who is a sales person, Emily who is a teacher, James who is a journalist, Philip who is a writer, Nina who is in advertising and David – the genius in the group, who is an IT expert. Statistically, who of these people would you say is great with words and communication? Most probably not the IT specialist…Because our IT guy, he most likely never studied, specialized or experienced conversation construction, analysis and design; neither has he specialized in interpersonal communication. Let’s face it – David, the computer genius, won’t be the one to woo you with his social skills, so why is he the one who designs our bots? 

A dialogue doesn’t only consist of grammatical knowledge, or an extensive vocabulary. It is a complex art, which consists of different layers, stratums and contexts. Social skills help a little, but the art of understanding deep creative conversations architectures is not acquired by everyone.

Conversation Artist

When I first gained interest in bots, it took me a while to realize who is actually good with designing conversations. While now I take it for granted. The answer is: scriptwriters.  The scriptwriters are the masterminds behind writing popular television series, sketching shows, satire, talk shows and stand up. A good scriptwriter is actually a conversation artist, which can juggle with words, but is also capable of formatting a conversation with all the relevant contexts and stratums and by utilizing suitable techniques. Scriptwriters are also able to portray a character and implement that character into the conversation. The can analyze and simulate situations that happen in real life, and construct intelligible and flowing sentences.

If that is so, why aren’t there many companies hiring scriptwriters to take part in the bots’ design teams? As mentioned, this field is just in its preliminary stages and we are still ahead of the curve. The scriptwriters themselves, will have to upgrade their skills. To make valuable contributions to the field, they will have to learn programming, logical thinking and be able to draw flow charts – tasks that not all scriptwriters are capable of.

The bots field can become better if scriptwriters join them. These scriptwriters should have a basic understanding of the consumers’ needs, forecast the possible scenarios, format them into stages and technical contexts, word the correct replies and ultimately create wise and intuitive conversation processes. That will create a new profession – bot conversation designers, or bot scriptwriter. The bot scriptwriter and the IT experts would work side by side, each contributing their part. In this way, advanced, effective and sophisticated bots can be created.

 

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