If you’ve ever used a customer support livechat service, you’ve probably experienced that vague, sneaking suspicion that the “person” you’re chatting with might actually be a robot.Like the endearingly stiff robots we’ve seen in countless movies — tragic, pitiful machines tortured by their painfully restricted emotional range, futilely hoping to attain a greater degree of humanity — chatbots often sound human, but not quite. It’s the online equivalent of the “Uncanny Valley,” a mysterious region nestled somewhere between the natural and the synthetic that offers a disturbing glimpse at how humans are making machines that could eventually supplant humans, if only their designers could somehow make their robotic creations less nightmarish. Chatbots have become extraordinarily popular in recent years largely due to dramatic advancements in machine learning and other underlying technologies such as natural language processing.Despite these considerable limitations, chatbots are becoming increasingly sophisticated, responsive, and more “natural.”Put another way, they’re becoming more human.Now that we’ve established what chatbots are and how they work, let’s get to the examples.Some chatbots offer a remarkably authentic conversational experience, in which it’s very difficult to determine whether the agent is a bot or a human being.Others are much easier to spot (much like the T-600 series of murderous robots in the popular sci-fi action movies): Although chatbot technology is distinctly different from natural language processing technology, the former can only really advance as quickly as the latter; without continued developments in NLP, chatbots remain at the mercy of algorithms’ current ability to detect the subtle nuances in both written and spoken dialogue.Today, chatbots are used most commonly in the customer service space, assuming roles traditionally performed by living, breathing human beings such as Tier-1 support operatives and customer satisfaction reps.Conversational agents are becoming much more common partly due to the fact that barriers to entry in creating chatbots (i.e.
Although director James Gunn’s 2016 was pretty bad (even casting Kurt Russell couldn’t save it), Chris Pratt’s portrayal of space-pirate-turned-intergalactic-hero Star-Lord was spot on — and Marvel’s chatbot that lets comic-book geeks talk to Star-Lord himself is also pretty decent.
Unfortunately, my mom can’t really engage in meaningful conversations anymore, but many people suffering with dementia retain much of their conversational abilities as their illness progresses.
However, the shame and frustration that many dementia sufferers experience often make routine, everyday talks with even close family members challenging.
As such, the chatbot aims to identify deviations in conversational branches that may indicate a problem with immediate recollection — quite an ambitious technical challenge for an NLP-based system.
In addition, since the chatbot is a cloud-based solution, physicians and family members can review communication logs taken from the bot to identify potential degradation of memory function and communicative obstacles that could signify deterioration of the patient’s condition.