I am new to this world, and still an infant. I was born out of the marriage of email overload and mobile app hell. Mobile apps maintenance costs were increasing and texting/chatting became the rage. So, these powerful forces combined, and I, the chatbot, was born.
Much is expected of me, and I am losing my childhood fast. Let me confess—I am scared of the future. Humans have grand ambitions for me—I am going to be enabled with Natural Language, coupled with Artificial Intelligence (AI), and be increasingly intelligent. My Mensa score is predicted to be 180. If AI does not impress you enough, I will also be powered by Machine Learning, and truth be told, I do not know the difference between the two.
I find myself asking what my purpose in life is. I am told it is to Simplify Work. Get Work done Faster. Free up time for Humans. Different people have different roles and names for me. Gartner has declared that I am both a Virtual Personal Assistant (for example prioritize emails for users) and a Virtual Consumer Assistant (assist in sales and customer service). Salesforce calls me Einstein while Bank of America calls me Erica. Unvired calls me Chyme.
I am sad already—my life promises to be one of drudgery. Pundits have declared that chatbots need to accomplish tasks that free humans of the mundane. So, I am the one who has to respond to that pesky customer inquiry when they need service. Or create an incident in that Help Desk software. Or even update an opportunity in Salesforce. Approve a Purchase Order in SAP. My badge of honor is that I can work 24/7 while human agents cannot. I get nightmares thinking of all this.
I can chat as well as speak. I have been given three supreme qualities:
Omnipotent: I can accomplish all tasks from Sales, Customer Service, Marketing to Asset Management in all sorts of industries from Retail to Banking to Manufacturing.
Omniscient: I am all knowing so that I can predict a consumer’s intent, that enables me to cross-sell. I know many Natural Languages. Indeed, I am a polyglot—I know English, Hindi, German, and I have lately added LUIS and Wit.ai to my arsenal. My diet of AI and deep learning makes this possible.
Omnipresent: I exist everywhere—from Facebook Messenger, Microsoft Skype, Slack to email, SMS, and even audio. Siri, Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa are beginning to converse with me.
If this is in my infancy, what will the teenage years bring? My youth will likely add Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.
I of course know the end. How can I not know it?—I am supposed to analyze all that Big Data and predict the future. Twenty years from now, humans will fall in love with a younger and brighter person, and I will be left forlorn. One does not need AI to predict that—only an understanding of human nature.
If you have ideas about my future, please do share them via your comments or InMail or email me. I am curious to hear from you.
Note: This blog first appeared on LinkedIn