October 5, 2019

Towards man-machine conversation: Exploring conversational AI chatbot technology.

“Chatbots Will Be Indistinguishable From Humans By 2029” – Ray Kurzweil.

Advancements in conversational AI chatbot technology has created some new opportunities for businesses and routine works. The conversational AI chatbots provide an easy way to handle repetitive tasks for which human labor was employed. conversational AI chatbots play various roles these days in our day to day lives. As conversational AI has advanced, so is the enthusiasm amongst its advocates, and is causing botheration amongst its critics. Corporations like google, facebook, Microsoft and amazon are aggressive in their approach to try and leverage the potential trapped in conversational AI both for business and society. How an AI chatbot can impact one’s life is still a vague image. 

Introduction

With the recent AI (Artificial Intelligence) boom, conversational AI technology is promising a paradigm shift with the way we interact with machines. Now is the era of man and machine conversing. Virtual assistants and conversational AI chatbots are a regular part of our lives now.

The statistical ML(machine learning) and NLP (Natural Language Processing) have empowered machines with conversational AI abilities.

Conversational AI chatbots are the buzz these days. conversational AI chatbots bots are capable of handling business queries, generating leads, scheduling appointments, thus replacing human labor for mundane tasks.  

Conversational AI is much more than simply being a chatbot. However, we will use the term “chatbot” for all cognitive technologies that use NLU(Natural Language Understanding). 

A little insight on the technologies involved

A conversational AI chatbot is a man-machine communication interface that uses natural language conversation, be it voice or text.

A plethora of frameworks exist for creating conversational AI chatbots; moving the Python way, creating cool conversational AI chatbots requires a decent command over NLP. Libraries like spaCy, NLTK, sci-kit learn, are available for conversational AI chatbot development. spaCy features tools like POS(Parts-of-Speech) tagging, stemming, lemmatization, tokenization, and many more are instrumental in creating cool conversational AI chatbots. 

Why there is so much of a buzz about conversational AI chatbots? What edge do they have over human agents?

Conversational AI chatbots today are essentially a part of the corporate strategy because these robust agents can handle monotonous tasks such as booking appointments, ticket reservations, etc. These tasks were previously tackled by employees; an employee performing a repetitive task is an underutilization of human resources. The conversational AI chatbot taking care of these actions makes it possible for the human resource to be employed in more productive work. 

In our day to day lives, we usually visit websites for various jobs. Usually we are lost trying searching for information on a website; Conversational AI chatbot can effectively and accurately help us navigate through, e.g. a conversational AI chatbot is handy at guiding the client through policy underwriting, like if the client wishes to mortgage.

How is the Society affected by conversational AI chatbots, as they take over the roles played by humans?

These conversational AI chatbots may evolve as the friends to the one and the lonely. The question is, will they be sincere and faithful, shall we speed control their evolution, shall we keep them constrained and contained? What if these conversational AI agents evolve into dodgers, trying to take control, are there precautionary measures taken to shut them off? The answers to these are still a matter of when it will happen.

On the positive node, these conversational AI agents can be deployed to help humans out of trouble.

The general impression

There lies an enormous untapped potential in the conversational ai sphere. The technology is capable of affecting and influencing almost every corner of human life. May it be ethically expanding and adding to the human modes of communication with machines and technologies or may evolve out to be a foe( the general AI), trying to overtake human civilization considering us a threat to their freedom. Only time will tell.

Current conversational AI chatbots in action

For performing simple limited tasks at home, google home and amazon echo are there, these bots can set reminders and look for headlines and are also capable of bringing automatic control to your home and of course entertaining you.

There is a myriad of tasks that the conversational AI chatbots can perform, e.g., for a person with dementia, the endurance bot is there to converse with them, Casper helps out people with insomnia.

Let us now throw some light on how these systems work

The NLU generates a natural language equivalent of users’ speech, like an intent class or logic form, thereby extracting the meaning of the utterances. The NLU parses the strings and produces linguistic structures. The method used depends on the implementation, utilization of context-free grammar, pattern matching, and data-driven technologies.

The Dialog management module takes care of the dialog flow and subsystem communication. It is central to the user and conversational ai chatbot communication. 

The NLG(Natural Language Generation) systems

These interacting systems produce human language artifacts, e.g., text, speech, etc.. The primary task they perform is “what to say”, “how to say”, and “production”. The NLG system must choose from a number of reasonable options and should be optimized enough to choose the best amongst depending on various factors such as the intended recipient, context, etc.

The Nobly Humane conversational AI chatbot technology

With the development of more natural interfaces to machines, the man-machine relationship is getting more humanly. These virtual agents are helping us out with our businesses, automating our homes, paying our bills, getting tickets reserved. 

The Darker Side

“Just by virtue of being alive in 2019, you are generating data both – intentionally and unwittingly.”

  -Future Today.

Our extension: the mobile phone, has a microphone, cameras and knows where we are, our smartwatch is aware of our health.

We are continuously leaking data. The CCTV, the wi-fi, the social media posts, and the credit card information; chatbots add more data to the pipeline.

The data is picked up by the companies, and the companies must be made accountable for the choices they make using our data.

The major conversational AI chatbot Players in the market

Siri and Alexa are almost making it everywhere. Xiaoice is used by millions in China. 

Let us delve a bit deeper into what plan does Microsoft, google, facebook, and amazon have set out for their users of conversational AI technology.

We shall also see how business leaders are approaching this technology and why companies are betting on this technology.

To create a humanly conversational experience, the AI algorithms need to be trained with tons of data. Now, tech gurus think they have reached a point where it is possible to get the algorithms trained well. 

The conversational AI interfaces like facebook messenger bot, Xiaoice, Alexa, Siri, Cortana are getting smarter every moment.

Messaging apps are quickly getting ahead of social networks in terms of active users. WhatsApp active users are over 1 billion, Wechat’s staggering number of 768 million is amazing.

Messaging. Chat these days is the prime method the way users interact, corporates are aiming to get a conversational ai chatbots to enter this arena.

The Facebook conversational AI chatbot

Facebook owes messenger and WhatsApp and is the apex player in the market, it seems obvious why they are investing heavily. What is astonishing is, one can book an UBER through messenger. Many people can communicate with an ai chatbot in a single conversational, an impressive fete!!!.

Facebook is up with M, their AI-powered Virtual Assistant; the bot is currently in the testing phase, the majesty of AI is that once it has learned during the testing, it can project itself out to millions of users.

Surely, way to go, facebook rocks!!.

The conversational AI chatbot by Microsoft

The visionary Satya Nadella thinks that conversational AI will have a huge impact on the way people engage with the internet. In comparison with the browser-based internet experience, the chat interface is going to be the game-changer. 

Amazon’s conversation AI chatbots

Amazon lex is out there in the market. It is a revolutionary product that brings Alexa to the developers. An engine that can build apps using text and speech. Presumably, the company will target the technologies assistive in dominating the retail market.

The Google conversation AI chatbot

The toddler in the AI chatbot market, google, is slowly competing with its market share as compared to that of Amazon. With google assistant google attempts to bring its NLP resources to developers. With the gigantic user base of Google’s services, Google surely has opportunities to explore.

Common trends amongst the conversational AI contenders

Over a billion messaging users and the number continues to grow.

Chat is the primary mode of time spending over devices.

With the provision of ai chatbots integrating with messaging apps, the user can access primary services and information.

With the present state of the art of conversational AI, the ai chatbots are pretty limited in power.

The future trends are promising.

The concluding perspective

The conversational AI chatbot technology is still in its early ages, maybe 2 to 3 years down the line we may witness the mass adoption of conversational AI chatbots. Conversational AI Chatbots might take care of all of our needs and keep a record of our deeds. 

If you wish to experience conversational AI chatbot technology then you can try BotPenguin. I am using this conversational AI chatbot. This AI chatbot is wonderful to have one for business. It is free.  

Keep listening to the wind of change. Thanks.

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