These computer programs designed to simulate human interactions can be helpful for a business. But sometimes they're too smart for their own good.
- Chatbots simulate human conversations through artificial intelligence. They mimic interactions people might have with others.
- Chatbots may seem like a good idea, but if the launch is not executed perfectly, they can backfire.
- Knowing what your company needs can help you find the right technology.
What is a chatbot, and how does it work?
Put simply, a chatbot is an application that is created to make it possible for humans and computers to communicate on a deeper level. Instead of just pecking keys and maneuvering around, a chatbot helps to encourage communication that mimics the interactions we might have with other human beings. However, a chatbot has a predetermined number of responses, so the interaction may not be quite as deep as it would be between two humans.
What are some challenges businesses face with chatbots?
Humans are unpredictable; we may be talking about one thing one moment and then go on a completely unrelated tangent. Chatbots, however, are not sentient, so they cannot predict accurately how the human brain will respond. That unpredictability presents challenges. Programmers can predict behavior and interaction to a certain point, but if the human does not provide the bot with the information it needs, it cannot provide the answers or the interaction that is expected.
Chatbots also can cause some embarrassing blunders. This emerging tech, which seems to be exiting the awkward middle school phase of its evolution, has left a long line of fails behind it that would be criminal not to address (and enjoy). Indeed, these computer programs are not foolproof. From Poncho's repeated ignored requests for a weather forecast to an unnerving inspirational bot, the absurdity of chatbots reflects the hilarity of the intersection of randomness and data.
While chatbots have improved and could one day add convenience to our lives, the awkwardness of the growth process is all part of the fun. Learning about these bots that have tried but ultimately failed is sure to make you chuckle. [Read related article: How to Create the Best Chatbot for Your Business]
InspiroBot's function is to generate unlimited unique inspirational quotes and images. The bot is meant to inspire us mere humans to achieve our dreams and start working toward our goals. Needless to say, the randomness of this bot has made for some ridiculous images. You might think a bot that helps you feel better, do better and grow would be great, but that is not the case. With super-cheesy quotes like "If you actually need to be considered a decent human being, one way to begin is to close your eyes," this bot misses the mark.
Credit: Chatbot's Life
Poncho was a popular weather bot that could message users the weather at a current location throughout the day. (It was shut down in 2018.) Users could also download the Poncho app or interact with Poncho via Facebook Messenger, which is where Poncho just couldn't seem to pay attention long enough to understand the user. Some people described Poncho as a "cheeky forecast bot"; its true purpose was not just to tell you the weather but to do so in an amusing way.
Credit: Chatbot's Life
UX Bear is a chatbot that was created to talk about design. For the most part, the program works, but every now and again, it veers off-topic. UX Bear never took off; it ended up being hard to use.
Some chatbots work well
Despite the social blunders, most of these chatbots actually do their jobs. UX Bear offers insight into design principles, Poncho and its app provided daily weather updates, and InspiroBot generates instant, inspiring content (most of the time). Although chatbots have failed in the past, it doesn't mean they won't be reliable in the future.