It is no secret that chatbots are not a new technology, but the recent interest in chatbots is playing one very important role in the evolution of Artificial Intelligence, they are helping AI become publicly accessible and accepted. Even with all the technological advances we have seen over the last few years, there is still a fairly large disconnect between technology and the general public and businesses, particularly true in the case of A.I.
A.I has been for a number of years, a taboo subject, an issue that I have had to face and tackle in my personal and business life. Through valid warnings about loss of jobs through automation, warnings from Elon Musk & Stephen Hawking, and thanks to films like the Terminator, the Matrix and iRobot, A.I has not had a very good start, with most of the world fearing the advancements of this life changing technology.
Through chatbots, the world has seemed to take a step back from these fears and begun to accept that A.I is part of our lives now. Although they have been using A.I in their everyday life for many years on platforms such as Facebook and Google, they haven't seemed to really be aware of it, or turned a blind eye to it. With thousands of bots out there in the wilderness now, it is kind of hard to ignore, and the public are being drawn to them, finding out for the first time, what it will be like to engage with an artificial entity.
Despite the obvious benefits that chatbots are providing, many know that they are a very small part of a more advanced technology. So where are we heading after the chatbots?
For me the answer to that is fairly easy, as it is exactly what I have been working on for a number of years now, fully A.I integrated applications. When I first began getting involved in A.I, I had one goal, to create an A.I that was capable of assisting me and my clients with physically running their business, an A.I that would become an artificial member of staff, that could not only communicate with other team members, but also have access to the core functionality of the systems they live on, the ability to interact with their surroundings, and be able to carry out tasks freeing up valuable human resources. My current solutions include the integration of a range of A.I technologies, including: natural linguistics, machine vision, speech recognition and speech synthesis, with exception to natural linguistics, most of these technologies are not currently implemented in chatbots.
In addition to assisting team members, another major role that A.I will play is obviously interacting directly with clients or site visitors, similar to the way chatbots currently interact with humans now, but providing a much more effective service. Most chatbots are accessible by a textual UI, but this is a very primitive way of communicating with an A.I, and one of the things I have focused on bettering for while. In addition to providing a UI, I also implement the use of voice recognition and voice synthesis, the AI can actually listen to customers and speak back to them without them ever having to touch their keyboard or mouse. There are still some limitations with the voice recognition technology at the moment as a whole, but as time goes on I thoroughly believe that these features will play a key a role in all A.I applications.
As an example of how the above mentioned will help businesses, one project I have been working on implements these capabilities with an E-Commerce system, to provide not an E-Commerce store with a chatbot, but an Artificially Intelligent E-Commerce store. I have teamed up with API.AI, recently acquired by Google, to integrate their state of the art natural linguistics platform to enhance the user experience. From a visitors point of view, they can navigate the store, speak to the A.I to identify products or services they are interested in, manage their cart and account, all by simply interacting with the A.I via speech or text. From a business owners point of view, their A.I comes pre trained with the capabilities of seamlessly learning the products added to the store, and how to interact with the front end allowing them to assist site visitors. Through the GUI businesses can train their A.I exactly how they want, allowing them to mold their A.I in a way that best fits the image of their business.
For me chatbots will not replace applications or websites, they are simply a stepping stone to a world where the applications and websites are themselves, artificially intelligent. Once the public begins to become more accustom to chatbots, they are not going to want to continually click on buttons or flick through cards until they find what they want, they will want to interact, find what they want, and get out of there, and I believe that fully A.I integrated solutions will be the next natural stage in the evolution of chatbots and A.I for business.