In an era where technology has completely revolutionised the way things around us work, one cannot fail to notice that there has been a tremendous amount of innovation in how the internet is interacting with us. A new type communication has recently become very popular among businesses and websites and it’s called chatbots.
This new tech has gotten people to worry about their job security as well. Sectors such as law, medicine, finance are all slowly adopting AI and chatbots to do their bidding. The fields of telemarketing and retail are the most likely to get dismantled as the reliance on chatbots increases day by day. To understand why this is happening one must first understand what a chatbot is and what it does.
A chatbot is a specially designed computer program whose main function is to converse with humans using a mixture of auditory, visual and text methods. A chatbot is programmed in such a way that it emulates a nearly exact human response to queries. Chatbots have a system which allows two-way communication and personalized interaction between the consumer and a brand. This allows easy access and immediacy that can’t be achieved via an email or websites.
The word chatterbot was first used by Michael Mauldin in 1994. Quite a few chatbots use a complex and sophisticated natural language processing system. Others may use simpler systems to scan for keywords and accordingly find a response.
The Chatbot Invasion
Present day messaging services like Facebook have successfully implemented the use of chatbots in instant messaging apps like Messenger. Today, researchers from Facebook’s FAIR lab have demonstrated a new way of training chatbots to negotiate on behalf of users. In many cases the users are not aware that they were, in fact, talking to a chatbot. Virtual assistants like Siri in Apple devices and Cortana in Windows devices are fast gaining traction for their ease of use and accuracy.
In technical terms, there are two types of chatbots — one functions as a virtual assistant. The other is found in instant messaging services like Facebook messenger, Wechat, Slack etc. Virtual assistants are a deeper form of AI which are programmed to learn and interact more efficiently, like Siri or Cortana. The total chatbot and virtual assistant industry in the next decade or so is predicted to be worth around a billion dollars.
This means that while the technology to develop and improve the chatbots system increases, reliance on humans to do the same amount of work decreases. Researchers say chatbots are effectively trying to improve on human cognitive responses and use it to make theirs even better. It is but obvious that companies may try and replace jobs with AI-powered bots. These bots can accomplish the same amount of work in a faster and more precise manner while still remaining cost-effective. This is partly because of the fact that instant messaging has taken over as the primary mode of communication.
A study by Forrester has shown that one out of four jobs are going to be impacted by AI in the upcoming years. People searching for a quick answer with a hint of prior knowledge can get instant responses from chatbots rather than waiting for a human response. Some banks have upgraded their chat systems to bypass any human interaction for customers to get information.
However, the technology is still in its nascent stages. Tech experts predict there is still a lot to come before chatbots can converse and completely replace a human. At least providing customer support.
Some reports though, have stated that nearly 33% of people actually prefer to use chatbots for making decisions involving a product purchase. Business Insider claims that in the UK, people are ready to shell out an average of $410 to avail the recommendations of a chatbot. But if chatbots are not able to deliver the required expectations, around three-quarters of users claimed that they did not want to use the chatbot again.
The Road Ahead
Mostly, chatbots operate at nearly 85 percent efficiency claims VentureBeat. That means that sometimes, the automated responses given to customer may not be satisfactory. This can potentially harm the reputation of the company. Therefore it is necessary to implement human contact at various levels in a chatbot conversation to maintain customer satisfaction.
Opinions on chatbots and AI will remain divided. But the fact that they will play an immense role in the years to come remains crystal clear.