By Alex Muchiri, an Alibaba Cloud MVP. He is the founder of Itesyl Technologies, a financial data and business banking solutions company.
Those of us in mid-twenties have already seen enough technology evolution in our lifespan than what our grandparents did in their entire lifetime. Kids born in the 2000s may find it hard to believe that at the turn of the century, the internet was a preserve of the higher classes in society. But how could you blame them when all they know is smartphones, YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp, laptops, and high-speed internet?
The smartphone brought us innovations in UI-based apps that enabled the digitization of many processes. Presently, technology is changing once again, this time driven by advances in machine learning and cloud computing. Now, there is a shift to conversational interfaces that have access to a wide array of backend services. While the conventional app is still useful, conversational-based tools promise easier access and quick response across varied applications and services. It is very common that you must have encountered a chatbot browsing some websites online. They are being used in sales, customer service, and marketing to do a lot of things.
Chatbots are the latest innovation geared towards simplifying the engagement of man and machine. They come in many flavors, from virtual assistants, engagement bots to productivity bots integrated to backend systems. While chatbots engage in real conversations, they are different from humans. Nonetheless, chatbots improve communication efficiency and reduce the time of service.
In a nutshell, a chatbot is a software system employing artificial intelligence techniques such as natural language processing to engage users in conversations via a messaging channel. Some popular channels integrating bots include Facebook, Twitter, Slack, WhatsApp, and other messaging services and corporate websites. It is a promising technology and so far, provides the most advanced way to integrate human and machine communications seamlessly. One of the key advantages of chatbots is their ability to learn new techniques over time to provide more accurate responses.
First of all, chatbots are not natural language processors but they heavily depend on natural language interpretation. Chatbots identify the meaning of conversations or phrases provided by the end-user through the use of natural language processing algorithms to determine their needs. It will then prompt an appropriate response or action, such as calling an API. Chatbots depend upon natural language processing to correctly synthesize user input and detect slight differences in language.
The aim of building chatbots is to create machines that are reliable enough to mimic human intelligence and interaction. It is also sometimes referred to as the Turing test, a measure of a machine's cognitive ability, similar to a human characteristics index. User experience will be very different if chatbots can pass the Turing test and open up new possibilities in customer care and interactions. While the technology we have is not yet able to meet this difficult test, it is evolving quickly and grabbing attention to further advance its development. In the next section, we look at some of the future possibilities in the application of chatbots in everyday interaction.
Moving into the future, chatbots will become increasingly witty and will be used in various fields. With more advanced machine learning algorithms and larger training data sets, the Turing test will be met at some point in the future for better and more efficient interaction with humans.
Some of the major trends anticipated are:
Alibaba Cloud's Intelligent Service Robot is a chatbot platform enabling users to send queries and receive answers on mobile apps, websites, and messaging apps. It is based on natural language processing with the ability to integrate domain-specific knowledge bases or custom dialogue flows. With the ability to integrate third-party APIs, Intelligent Robot can help fulfill orders or call some other backend service.
In this article, you learned about what chatbots are, how organizations are using them currently, and what the future of chatbots is. We also discussed how Alibaba Cloud helps you with the Intelligent Service Robot.
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