Tag: chatbots

No Facebook’s chatbots weren’t planning to overthrow humanity

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Facebook’s AI team made headlines across the world this week when they announced that they were shutting down a chatbot project after their chatbots developed a new language to more effectively communicate with each other–a language humans couldn’t understand. The announcement sparked a long-held fear of humans: that our machines could rise up and overthrow. Dozens of news networks published pieces with scary sounding headlines about artificial intelligence takeovers. They couldn’t have been farther from the truth. For hundreds of years humanity has feared new technologies because we fear what we do not understand. Hollywood has capitalized on this fear making movie after movie where robots overthrow us and enslave or destroy us. But that’s not what was happening with Facebook’s chatbot project.

The project

A few weeks ago, Facebook announced a project they were working on with the goal of creating chatbots that could be trained to negotiate and strike deals with each other. The thinking behind this is that deal-making is an integral part of interpersonal communication and the world of business and if chatbots are going to play a role in that future, then they need to have negotiating skills. Facebook’s team used machine learning by inputting real-world examples of negotiations–actual transcripts that the program could use to look for patterns and “understand” how negotiations work. Next, they would instruct two chatbots to negotiate by instructing them to divide up a collection of various different items between themselves. The hope was that they would make deals: “If I can have this item and this item, you can have that item and that item, etc…” It didn’t work out that way.

What went wrong?

The chatbots evidently diverged from human speech instead speaking a gibberish version of it. Make no mistake, this wasn’t some advanced language designed to hide their motives from human observers. It went something like this:

Bob: “i can i i everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . . .”

Alice: “balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to…”

What does it all mean?

The end result didn’t surprise the researchers (though it certainly disappointed them) nor should it have surprised us. Artificial intelligence can do some incredible things. In fact the same principles of machine learning that Facebook used to teach negotiating to machines was already successfully used to develop computer programs that can beat the most intelligent humans at their own game be it chess or some other strategic game. But language is infinitely more complex, even more than chess and harder to teach machines.

Not a complete failure

The researchers didn’t shut down their negotiating bots because they feared a robot apocalypse. They shut it down because chatbots that communicate in a way humans can’t understand offer no benefit to humanity. They will go back to the drawing board and create parameters that prevent them from reverting to gibberish and try again. This is how artificially intelligent chatbots are programmed: through trial and error.

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Source: wired   .com/story/facebooks-chatbots-will-not-take-over-the-world/

 

Pros and cons of deploying a chatbot

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As with any mobile marketing channel, chatbots have their strengths and weaknesses. Before investing in chatbots, it’s a good idea to understand where they’re current at, technology-wise and what they can and can’t do.

Pro: They provide a personalized experience

Since chatbots can be programmed to have access to a vast amount of data, it can provide people with a highly personalized experience. Imagine a shopping assistant chatbot that remembers the personal tastes of each person it assists. I would be able to suggest products that the shopper is much more likely to purchase.

Con: They’re not quite human

Though the artificial intelligence programming that goes into chatbots has come along way, they still can’t fool humans. Currently, most of the chatbots being developed are only capable of choosing from a selection of set sentences or questions. They can’t create sentences in an infinite number of ways like humans can and within a minute or two users will catch on that they’re chatting with a computer program. This is off-putting to some who will still prefer doing things the old-fashioned way–speaking, or at least chatting with a real person.

Pro: They can shorten customer support wait times

If you’re planning on using a chatbot for customer service purposes, you can free up live agents by letting the chatbots ask the routine questions and pull customer data. They can also route customers to the appropriate department similar to the way that automated phone answering systems do for phone calls. If customers are able to get assistance via text promptly, they will have a more positive customer service experience and will be more likely to remain customers–and customer support users–in the future.

Con: They can get caught in a loop of unhelpfulness

Most people have had the experience of listening through a series of options and trying to navigate a complicated automated phone answering system to get to the help they need. The same thing could happen with chatbots if they aren’t programmed well and if there aren’t enough humans monitoring things to jump in and take the reins. Chatbots won’t always be able to understand what a human is saying or asking and consequently, they’ll provide unhelpful responses. If a customer can’t get the help they need promptly, the chatbot may do more harm than good when it comes to the reputation of the brand it’s representing. This drawback of chatbots can be overcome through better programming and live agent support. A “go back” command option, for instance, could allow a customer to return to a previous question or back out of a line of thought that they don’t want to pursue. If the chatbot is quicker to admit that it can’t assist a customer and quicker in transferring that person to a live agent that can, it will be viewed in a better light than if it were to keep guessing incorrectly until the customer gives up.

 

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Source: martechtoday   .com/pros-cons-future-facebook-chatbots-200783