How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Chatbots
7 Reasons Why a Chatbot Will Be Your New Best Friend
Have you heard?
The chatbots are taking over. Much like apps, soon they will be everywhere and used for everything. And it’s going to be amazing.
Chatbots are designed to simulate having a conversation with a human, which can and will be a major improvement in our lives, for reasons I will get to. But many people worry that we will soon no longer be able to distinguish between humans and chatbots. For example, people were pretty freaked out by Google’s demo of its new Duplex chatbot product.
It can be a scary prospect to not know who is even human anymore, but thankfully it’s now legally required for a company to disclose when you are chatting with a bot. And companies are realizing that it’s bad for business to deceive people in such a profound way.
Some people more generally just don’t trust that chatbots will work properly. Yes, many of today’s chatbots are useless and infuriating. But the technology has improved greatly, and when a chatbot is built with sufficient data and nuance (like a certain legal chatbot, hint hint), it can be a very satisfying experience.
What exactly is a chatbot?
Many people still aren’t quite sure what a chatbot is, but chances are you’ve already “met” one. Does Siri, Alexa, or Cortana ring a bell? Several company websites also use chatbots for customer service, like when you are shopping for something online and that little box pops up asking if you need help.
To put it simply, a chatbot is a “bot” (software that automates certain tasks) that is programmed to have a conversation with you, usually about a specific topic. Similarly to a Google search, chatbots usually use natural language processing (NLP) and artificial intelligence (AI) to figure out what you are saying to it. The chatbot then searches its applicable databases and gives you what it thinks is the most appropriate response.
When a chatbot is built well, it can feel like talking to a real human. Without annoying human traits like judgments or inconsistency.
Why do we need chatbots?
You might think you can get all the information you need from either Google or talking to a human, but chatbots have certain advantages over both of these. Here’s 7 reasons why you will learn to love chatbots.
Chatbots are better than Google
1. Get answers faster. First, chatbots can give you an answer much quicker than Google. When you Google a question, you may have to click on several of the results, scroll down the pages, and parse through irrelevant information. A chatbot can give you appropriate information, instantly.
2. More flexible. You may not even be able to Google the information you are looking for, simply because you don’t know the right words to search. Even though a website may have the information you need, it may use different words than you would, so it won’t necessarily come up in a Google search. A bot can solve this problem by having many versions of a question attached to an answer, meaning that no matter how you ask the question you will get the answer you need.
3. Interactive experience. Chatbots are interactive, which makes it a much more engaging way to learn important things like the law, which can sometimes be quite dry. You can get the basics, and when you are ready, ask the bot for more advanced stuff.
The chatbot can also “get to know” you based on your responses, to give you a much more tailored experience than an internet search.
Chatbots are often better than talking to a person
4. No judgments. An advantage over talking to a human is that you can ask a chatbot all kinds of “dumb” or “weird” questions that you might not feel comfortable asking a person. Chatbots don’t judge (at least not yet). How many questions have you Googled that you wouldn’t dream of discussing with a real person?
5. Unlimited patience. People also have limits to their patience. If you ask someone too many questions, they can start to get annoyed or exhausted. Not chatbots!
6. Much cheaper. Certain types of humans, such as lawyers, accountants, or doctors, will charge you an arm and a leg for your question about your arm and leg.
7. Always available. Even if you are willing to pay the high price, you may not be able to access a real person right away, which is troubling in emergency situations. Or at 1am when you are up worried about a legal issue.
Of course, bots are not yet as sophisticated as humans in dealing with more complex issues. But if your issue is simple enough that a chatbot can help you with it, why would you pay or wait for a human?
Embrace the Bots
Because of all these benefits, chatbots will likely become the go-to resource for people seeking information and other assistance with their daily lives. As with any new technology, there will be some issues along the way, but in the end they will prove to be an indispensable tool that we will wonder how we lived without.
Why not get ahead of the curve and embrace the bots?