It has been over a month since my internship began and I am focusing on chatbots. What’s a chatbot? It’s a software with a messaging interface mainly used in chat applications in order to provide information to customer. Chatbots can be powered by artificial intelligence. They're constantly improving themselves by learning from users, thanks to machine learning for instance. They evolve, develop skills, become smarter and more competent, which allow a deeper understanding of the user to give him/her the best interaction possible.
I am actually studying computer science in France and I am doing my summer internship at the lovely IceMobile. Currently I am working together with the Front-End team.I started this internship with the goal of finding out what can be done with a chatbot combined with popular apps (such as Telegram, Facebook, Wechat…). Chatbots are an efficient and modern way of displaying web components. I discovered the endless possibilities offered by chatbots and how to make the most of them.
I made my first chatbot for the telegram app. I experimented with several AI platforms, as a result I decided to go with the Google platform which is Api.ai. This platform is based on natural language conversation with smart talks and machine learning. The bot can parse sentences, detect the context (more information about the context on this link: https://api.ai/docs/contexts) and then send the right answer to the user. That’s why I used it to build my weather bot on Facebook Messenger too. Facebook Messenger allows us to do cool things using webviews, like displaying any content you want as well as web components or our existing components.
Today, chatbots are widely used in many fields because they are able to do many kinds of things like: doing shopping, making payments, booking a reservation or substituting customer service for example. Very quick answers, multi-tasking and the quality of the information are the most popular features of the chatbots users. Moreover, all messaging applications already have lots of chatbots (like Facebook, Slack, Whatsapp...). Many Frameworks have already been developed or the previously mentioned apps. You can even create a super bot without coding using many different platforms (like Chatfuel: https://chatfuel.com).
That’s why the next step of my internship is to make a bot for the punch card team. The idea is to program an onboarding bot for this mobile application. Users could log in via the bot and then they will answer some questions. In that way, the bot can learn tastes and preferences from the user in order to personalize punch card offers.
Chatbots are evolving very fast however some people are still afraid of revealing extra information especially if it is on a personal level then people tend to think twice. But in a few years, as people will get used to it, they will be less skeptical towards chatbots. With artificial intelligence progress, human-computer interaction will be more fluent and natural than ever. People, in general, probably won’t be able to tell if they are chatting with a bot or not. They might even pass the Turing test (it’s an AI test to know if the machine can imitate a human conversation) and then people will become less reluctant about them.
Here are some relevant figures to understand the issue:
- Since 2016, there have already been 100.000 bots on Facebook Messenger (the leader in this field at this time)
- 80% of companies have already used or planned to use chatbots by 2020
- 80% of the mobile applications will be replaced by instant messaging applications in the next 5 years
- 8 billion dollars saved per year for customer services thanks to chatbots by 2022