a-z tech jargon
Instant Messaging/IM

The real meaning of… ChatBots

There are vast fortunes at stake in the future of messaging. Facebook spent $19 billion on WhatsApp and it won’t take LOL for an answer. It wants to hear “ROI” repeated, endlessly.

But the Internet of Things (IoT, also known as M2M for machine-to-machine) is growing equally furiously. This creates a dilemma for the venture capitalists. Which multibillion market should they venture into? Why not combine machines with messaging, with a Chatbot, FFS!

In Silicon Valley the race is on to create an automated chatbot which is always responsive to customers, even when human employees DGAF. (You’ll have to Google the meaning of that one.)

It might horrify some Luddites, but there are people who will love ‘engaging with their favourite brand’ via an automated M2C (machine-to-customer) interface. For them especially, all the regular call-centre functions can be automated. Once, you needed to hire a resentful human to make customers endlessly repeat their passwords, dates of birth and genetic sequencing. Now a machine can take all your personal life details. Which makes logical sense. When robots are intelligent enough to make decisions (including bad moral choices) why not give them all the temptation they need to consider a life of crime?

Honest chatbots, meanwhile, can do the regular jobs – such as transferring you round the building, misleading you and thinking up ways to get rid of you – far quicker and cheaper. Robots, unlike humans, are unlikely to get any ideas about pride in their job or the dignity of labour. In the long run, ChatBots may evolve into chatboots and ultimately Jackboots, as the Orwellian technology blueprint edges closer.

A chatbot’s empathy will only be as good as the person that created it. And even then the Chatbot’s artificial intelligence can only ever be a small subset of a programmer’s social skills. Hmmm, can anyone spot a possible drawback?


Related reading:

The real meaning of… ‘As A Service’

The real meaning of… Bitcoin


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Nick Booth

Nick Booth worked in IT in the UK’s National Health Service, financial services and The Met Police, witnessing at first hand the disruptive effects of new technology. As a journalist and analyst, his mission is to stop history repeating itself.

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