Brave New Bot (part 1)

Support managers of different call-centers can tell numerous stories about the freaky customers who call in order not to get advice or to be supported with some pertinent problem. They call just to hear a human voice on the other end starting conversation to have someone or even something to talk to.

Researches show divorcing rates keep growing that suggests a lot of people prefers to live lonely. Often with only dogs and cats. But pets can not talk, except maybe talkative parrots. The causes of such social phenomena deserve a separate consideration. However, one thing is certain, that many people feel alienated in this huge interconnected world. Nevertheless, being tribal creatures they need someone to talk to, even though they do not live with anybody else.

The innate desperation and probably unconscious self-deprecation pushes them looking for communication. But not just that.

The most powerful tool

The first and most natural human interface is language. This is our prime and the only system of communication regardless whichever forms and transformations it may take. Since day one, we have been taught to talk learning how to interact with the world around us. We feel validated when gain the understanding while meaningless communication delivers frustration.

See also: CURRENT REQUIREMENTS FOR UI/UX DESIGN

Going through 12-years English class at school, many among us remain not great at it, however. Computers may learn faster. Our urge to communicate combined with web technologies boosted social media boom during the last decade. Actually, every website and mobile app is designed similar having visual interface. Text, images, and buttons prevail at UI making people tap and type instead talking.

School system

The situation began changing with smartphones and wearable gadgets dominating over other computers nowadays. Screen size puts certain restrictions on visuals while the accelerating dynamics of contemporary life requires fast and simple actions. However, the ongoing trend of screen-less solutions is grounded rather by somewhat different.

Paradigm shift

Each decade since the early 1980s when personal computers started occupying general consumers, the technological shift of dominating software types has become apparent. Beginning from PC in the mid 80s, the software transition has moved through web in the mid 90s and smartphones of mid 00s.

The era of messaging of mid 10s tends to evolve by means of the biggest technological change ever. Head of Creative at Betaworks James Cooper believes that the present change will be much more pronounced than the shift to Web, Mobile or even to VR: “It will force people to rethink all their interactions and relationships with things, services — brands — in a fundamentally new way”. Elon Musk warns that the people who control it “…would have a disproportionate amount of power early on, as they’d be able to more rapidly automate most of their work”. This is about Its Majesty Artificial Intelligence and its legitimate child Bot.

The cyberspace botization is announced

An automated agent, or a bot, or more precisely a chatbot gains its incredible potential in the ability to accomplish a whole host of everyday human tasks communicating one-to-many individually and contextually. Bots enable people to use language naturally as their main interface. Peter Rojas from Chatbotmagazine.com explains that chatbots are so attractive because “they promise to make computing more natural by stripping away graphical-user interfaces and instead let us simply ask for what we want”.

Google’s designer Joe Toscano echoes him insisting that “…contextual communication (a form of dynamic intelligence) is what will make chatbots the revolutionary technology everyone is promising”. Embracing the range of bots functionality the description of only Facebook messenger bots definitely impresses: “Bots can provide anything from automated subscription content like weather and traffic updates, to customized communications like receipts, shipping notifications, and live automated messages all by interacting directly with the people who want to get them”. 

Bots vs apps

CEO of Octane AI, Founder of Chatbots Magazine Matt Schlicht believes that bots will kill websites and ordinary apps quite soon.  His confidence is based on the obvious everyday practice of users who are to learn new visual interfaces of visited websites or downloaded apps. It is not ideal, but we used to do it without even a thought whether such interaction convenient or not.

Mr.Schlicht proposes us to consider communication with websites via talking to bots instead of scrolling through the websites yourself: “In the future, talking to a bot will be like talking to a real person who has instant access to entire databases of information and can process your thoughts and desires instantly”.

School system

Whereas such a perspective still belongs to the future, apps are here to stay. However, it is time to consider the deeper personalization of the Internet with apps. Besides, the app stores overloaded with mostly unused products encourage rethinking about different cohabitation of apps on our gadget screens.  

Stats shows about 27 apps reside on the average user’s phone while only 4-6 of them are in everyday use. And only 3% of all apps retain new users within 30 days.

Notifications win the race

“Over 2.5 billion people have at least one messaging app installed. Within a couple of years that will reach 3.6 billion, about half of humanity.” — The Economist. This is where Artificial Intelligence and bots cooperate. The integration of new services into already available app sounds more worthwhile than downloading another app. Apple happens to be an expert in it with their iOS10 Siri-driven messenger, which blurred the lines between messaging and other multiply functions.

See also: WHAT'S NEW IN IOS 10

Messaging apps make shopping, learning new skills, and socialization more amazing with communication via the notification layer. That’s why the top four messaging apps have more monthly active users than the top four networking apps. Hundreds of already existing chatbots embedded into messengers saddled the notification layer up skimming the surface of the Internet instead of spending user’s time for deep discovering.

The new mobile web experience in the form of alerts and content or service notifications is available in our pockets and on wrists reconstructing the Internet from pull to push. Bots residing within notification layer of our phones suggest what relevant to us often without a need of a click.

Bots have not to be easier to use than the corresponding apps. They need to be more convenient giving the specific content for accomplishment being well in the bot’s area of expertise.

These are the early days of bots and thousands of botmakers are inspired with a possibility of creating the new level of productivity and effectiveness. They anticipate that the day will soon come when bots outperform humans that will be magical for users. In the second part of the article aligning zeitgeist, Indeema will advise  how to make an invisible bot-driven app, what problems botmakers face, how to turn an ordinary resume into an amazing chatbot, to which market segments bots befit, and about other bot-related areas of concerns for nerds and non-nerds.

Don’t miss, to be continued...

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