@ThingsExpo Authors: Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Dean Madison

Related Topics: @ThingsExpo, Machine Learning , Artificial Intelligence

@ThingsExpo: Blog Post

Beware the Wild Chatbot! | @ThingsExpo #AI #IoT #M2M #Chatbot

Do chatbots really need artificial intelligence? It may do more harm than good.

Chatbots are taking over the world. They have their own magazine, their own dot-org website, and their own versions of popular "meet someone" sites. Far too often, when we chat with them we think we're chatting with humans. Do you really think all those helpful "live chat" offerings that are popping up on e-commerce sites have call centers full of actual people behind them 24/7? Maybe they do, and maybe they don't. You may not be able to tell very easily, especially if the bot behind the chat utility you're using is programmed to hand you off to a human if you need a response beyond what the bot can give you.


Illustration courtesy of Grid Dynamics

Are Chatbots Dangerous?
In the February 21, 2017 edition of Forbes, Nikki Baird wrote an article titled, Why Chatbots Are Dangerous Territory For Retailers. The contention here is that retailers are often tempted to let customers think they're interacting with a human, not a machine. When customers learn the truth, they often feel they have been duped, which does not exactly build trust or loyalty. It's better to have a chatbot that openly identifies itself by saying something like, "I'm Help-bot, your friendly silicon assistant." That's not only honest, but it brings a light, friendly touch to the conversation.

A smart customer can easily tell when a chatbot is a chatbot, not a real person. Even bots that have fairly sophisticated AI (Artificial Intelligence) behind them can be tripped up without too much trouble, while less-sophisticated ones, like the Amazon Alexa, are so limited that playing with their limitations can make a great game for children. A lot of Alexa's problems have to do with voice recognition, and today we're concentrating on text-based chatbots; we'll give voice-based chatbots their own article in the near future. But voice recognition isn't the only kind of problem chatbots face. Text-based chatbots can get into plenty of trouble, too.

The big difficulty with chatbots, AI, and machine learning is that AI isn't very intelligent at this point -- unless the device has been built, a la IBM's Watson, with a nearly unlimited budget. Meanwhile, machine learning sometimes works better than its makers expect. A famous example of machine learning gone awry was Microsoft's Tay, which lived on Twitter and learned to be a "Nazi" from Nazi-leaning trolls.

As one commenter on Ars Technica said, "So Microsoft created a chat bot that so perfectly emulates a teenager that it went off spouting offensive things just for the sake of getting attention?" This is exactly true. Microsoft built Tay to interact with young people on their own terms. The only problem was, it apparently interacted heavily with young people from 4Chan, who tend to delight in pranks, trolling, and putting out the alt-right party line while spewing hate speech about everyone else.

This is not how you want your branded corporate bot to behave. Maybe a little less learning ability would be better than too much, unless you have the resources to monitor your chatbots around the clock -- which defeats their primary purpose: saving on labor costs.

Three Rules for Building Safe, Useful Corporate Chatbots

  • Set your sights low. Don't expect your bots to pass a Turing test or be much more than a combination menu navigation system and information service. The less sophisticated your bot, the lower the chance of it misbehaving.
  • Program your chatbot's responses only after analyzing hundreds or thousand of real customer interactions with your customer service people. The ideal team for programming a chatbot's responses, and deciding what keywords should trigger which responses, might be a customer service person, a marketing person, a programmer, and a psychologist or sociologist. And after the chatbot is put into production, that team should periodically check its responses and make changes as needed.
  • Be honest! Admit that your bot is a bot. And don't be afraid to have your bot say, "I don't think I can answer that. Hold on a moment while I get a human to help you."

Follow these three basic chatbot rules and you will have helpful chatbots and happy customers. The meta-rule behind these three rules is the traditional KISS, or "keep it simple, sailor." Recognize the fact that your chatbot will have limitations, and that you need to recognize those limitations and work within them, because fake "do it all" artificial intelligence is worse than no artificial intelligence at all.


Our next article on this topic will be about voice chatbots. Meanwhile, you may want to read this article: Chatbots in retail: 2017 is shaping up to be a big year. And if you're eager to start developing your own chatbot or want to modify an existing one for your purposes, bot Stash is an amazing resource that can take you all the way from from bot basics to advanced development, including APIs for platforms ranging from Facebook to Skype.

More Stories By Robin Miller

Robin “Roblimo” Miller is a long-time IT journalist known for his work on Slashdot, Linux.com, and other sites covering software so new that its edges haven’t even started to bleed. Nowadays, he writes for FOSSForce.com and works as an editorial consultant and blog editor for Grid Dynamics, “the engineering IT services company known for transformative, mission-critical cloud solutions for retail, finance and technology sectors.”

@ThingsExpo Stories
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of bus...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICOHOLDER named "Media Sponsor" of Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO. ICOHOLDER give you detailed information and help the community to invest in the trusty projects. Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO has opened its Call for Papers. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO also offers s...
DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
The IoT Will Grow: In what might be the most obvious prediction of the decade, the IoT will continue to expand next year, with more and more devices coming online every single day. What isn’t so obvious about this prediction: where that growth will occur. The retail, healthcare, and industrial/supply chain industries will likely see the greatest growth. Forrester Research has predicted the IoT will become “the backbone” of customer value as it continues to grow. It is no surprise that retail is ...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that "Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO" has announced that its Call for Papers is now open. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Financial enterprises in New York City, London, Singapore, and other world financial capitals are embracing a new generation of smart, automated FinTech that eliminates many cumbersome, slow, and expe...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...