Chatbots may seem like a recent phenomenon, but their history dates back as far as 1966, when the first chatbot – Eliza – was invented. You could even go further back to the invention of the Turing test in 1950. Clearly we’ve come a long way since then.
And we’re only really just getting started. Modern chatbots are finding their way quickly into the marketplace, although most aren’t being used to their full potential. During an AI panel at Mobile World Congress 2018, for example, an executive from Caixabank pointed out that the bank’s recently launched customer service chatbot – which was created to handle FAQs and other inquiries – can only answer up to 70% of the questions thrown at it, and that there’s a human on the other side of the screen to tackle the other 30%.
Even so, that’s changing fast as the AI software powering chatbots gets better and better. And even when you make allowances for the technology’s current limitations, the usage statistics are fascinating. Businesses are starting to see tangible gains from employing chatbot tech. Consumers are slowly but surely starting to get used to the concept of chatbots, although this is an area where user experience really matters – one unproductive conversation with a chatbot and most customers will either give up and place an angry phone call, or – even worse – take their business elsewhere.
Naturally there are still question marks surrounding chatbots – at what point will they so indistinguishable from humans? (Hint: futurist Ray Kurzweil expects that to happen by 2029.) And what will be the consequences of that (whether good or bad)?
Either way, chatbots aren’t going anywhere – you’re going to be seeing a lot more of them in the coming years as they become the default marketing tool of online service channels. They may not literally “conquer the world”, but just in case, you’d better read this infographic on the current state of Planet Chatbot.