B ots are awesome, no doubt, and we’re witnessing the big brands jump on the wagon to launch their bot platforms on top of their messengers. As a simple computer program, it pretty much makes things happen like a magic wand based on some input.
It is easy to tell that the customer support industry and media companies are the biggest beneficiaries of this subtle revolution gradually imposing itself on the tech landscape. In fact there is a research about software bots helping groups of humans solve collective-action problems faster.
My concern however is on the scope of utility and the palpable difference between human reasoning and AI. But before I go further we need to understand how chatbots work in relation to a human-to-human conversation. For now you’ll agree with me that the biggest shortcoming of computers is the inability to interpret human emotion in communication while they are matchless in the computation of data- one area humans haven’t been able to ace effectively. But we have empathy. A result-yielding marketing strategy is not possible without emotional intelligence, so the much dreaded pre-robocalyptic setting where customer communications’ jobs are lost won’t be happening soon.
So if bots are not smart enough to ascertain what’s below the surface, are they good anywhere else? With what currently subsists, they are effective for simple, low-level, repetitive questions and tasks. A NairaBot could get you forex information on request and you can as well get recommendations of cool places to eat out with EatDrinkLagos’ bot. Bot technology solves nagging problems like we’ve seen, unfortunately you won’t be told if you are overcharged, for example. Better call a human.
Bots are disadvantaged in crucial areas of operations in serving us, whereas it is refreshing to think that they can be incredibly helpful. Most of the times I would prefer to relate with a human than a machine about my internet data being zapped unfairly. The point is, bots are not meant to be applied to all interaction design problems. It’s like redesigning terrible logic trees inside messaging apps.
They are indispensable for repetitive human tasks, yet to chart a clearer and productive purpose for this robo-elemental force, we have to start building the ones that will help us and not replace us in a daunting future of job security.
Tiaan de Kock of NATIVE VML at last month’s BotCon Africa 2017 highlighted the opportunities to market quality chatbots, Out of Fortune 500 companies, only 9% are currently using chatbots. Of these, 30% of them are only using humans for customer service channels and 42% have no Messenger. This is a veritable rostrum for limitless development but we need to be more inventive and less cumbrous.
For now, we can try not to overly imitate human behaviour in bot tech, while we incorporate general intelligence to the niche to avoid architectural chaos. Humans are perfect fit to handle some operations we shove down bots throat. It’s time to render unto Caesar what is his as we boldly approach the future.
Author: Omotayo Adeleke