I’ve been wondering lately why and how conversational UI’s have orignated. Chatbots, using a conversational UI, have been getting really popular. But what are some deeper, higher-level trends around this topic? Not from a technological perspective but for example more from an economic, social-cultural or political perspective.
A conversational UI by it’s very nature is technological so I am not sure what other topics could come from that in the areas you speak of… I am trying to think of some ideas but I am drawing a blank. With in those example topics are there any particular things you are looking for related to chatbots?
This is an exciting and a huge topic. But it should be noted that conversational UI is not that successful beyond the incumbents Amazon Alexa, Google Now, Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortana.
Young people seem to move away from sharing social media to more private dialogue in messaging. Mirroring communication preferences and not making them go elsewhere for services seem sensible. (There are counterexamples, young people with limited life experience with how society works prefer more guidance and sometimes physical meetings and paper forms.)
The technology landscape is changing, although web pages will continue to be important, there´s profits to be had in playing with the major ecosystems in the shape of Super applications like Facebook and assistants like Alexa. Just like SEO, metadata, and mobile friendliness is important on the web today. Search seems to become more conversational in nature in that you can provide metadata in emails and on web pages to provide actionable and actionable information. Asking Google Now when a store opens is not a chat UI provided by a company, just providing structured metadata is often enough.
It´s hard to create a user interface which can do anything, the more complexity you have, the more people will need assistance. Augmenting human customer care representatives with conversational bots might provide a way to hit a sweet spot. There are enormous constraints in providing services when you have a small or no screen. A command interface is often less costly than implementing new features while maintaining a cohesive customer experience.
The following is just an assumption so correct me if I’m wrong. We’ve seen a rise in apps/products using a conversational UI because chatbots have become more mainstream. The reason companies like Facebook are supporting chatbots is because they’ve seen messaging apps have surpassed social networks in monthly active users.
So a social-cultural factor for this might be because people have become aware of their own privacy thus they’ve started sharing stuff on social networks less and went to a more private space, a messaging app.
The roots of the conversational UI are (1) set in representations of the future in old TV shows and movies, like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek (you name it) and Star Wars. Plus The Jetsons and (2) in “How may I help you?” based dialog management systems on interactive voice response systems circa 1994. The first influenced each individual’s expectations of how they could “talk to a computer.” The second defined what was possible using statistical language models and dialogue designs that helped people accomplish their goals.
All told, it’s like the bot world (whose roots are in text-based communications) has a community of developers that act like they are unaware of developments in the voice processing world, where “How May I Help You?” systems are now more closely mated to computing resources that accomplish Natural Language Understanding and improve responses over time thanks to machine learning and human intervention/tuning.