Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Frank Lupo

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.

chatbot.png

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
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, will discuss how by using...
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CAST Software will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CAST was founded more than 25 years ago to make the invisible visible. Built around the idea that even the best analytics on the market still leave blind spots for technical teams looking to deliver better software and prevent outages, CAST provides the software intelligence that matter ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japanese Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ruby Development Inc. builds new services in short period of time and provides a continuous support of those services based on Ruby on Rails. For more information, please visit https://github.com/RubyDevInc.
As businesses evolve, they need technology that is simple to help them succeed today and flexible enough to help them build for tomorrow. Chrome is fit for the workplace of the future — providing a secure, consistent user experience across a range of devices that can be used anywhere. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will take a look at various options as to how ChromeOS can be leveraged to interact with people on the devices, and formats th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Yuasa System will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Yuasa System is introducing a multi-purpose endurance testing system for flexible displays, OLED devices, flexible substrates, flat cables, and films in smartphones, wearables, automobiles, and healthcare.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Taica will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Taica manufacturers Alpha-GEL brand silicone components and materials, which maintain outstanding performance over a wide temperature range -40C to +200C. For more information, visit http://www.taica.co.jp/english/.
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. As a result, many firms employ new business models that place enormous impor...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SourceForge has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SourceForge is the largest, most trusted destination for Open Source Software development, collaboration, discovery and download on the web serving over 32 million viewers, 150 million downloads and over 460,000 active development projects each and every month.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dasher Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Dasher Technologies, Inc. ® is a premier IT solution provider that delivers expert technical resources along with trusted account executives to architect and deliver complete IT solutions and services to help our clients execute their goals, plans and objectives. Since 1999, we'v...
As popularity of the smart home is growing and continues to go mainstream, technological factors play a greater role. The IoT protocol houses the interoperability battery consumption, security, and configuration of a smart home device, and it can be difficult for companies to choose the right kind for their product. For both DIY and professionally installed smart homes, developers need to consider each of these elements for their product to be successful in the market and current smart homes.
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale, a leading provider of systems and services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale has been involved in shaping the computing landscape. They've designed, developed and deployed some of the most important and successful systems and services in the history of the computing industry - internet, Ethernet, operating s...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, will discuss how from store operations...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, will lead you through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He'll look at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering ...
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.