There are a number of questions surrounding this kind of technology. In this post we will attempt to define chat bots and break down any related concepts
WHAT ARE CHAT BOTS?
A chat bot is an artificial intelligence program that sometimes acts as an agent that you can interact with via a chat interface. Many online platforms use chat bots as a convenient way to automatize communication. Most you might recall when phone automation trees became widespread in the field of customer service. You would call the number of a business you wanted to contact and you were told by an automated robotic voice to press 1 for this option or press 2 for another option or press 3 to actually speak to a human.
These systems are an example of a very primitive chat bot. The input they could take in were usually limited to numbers on a keypad and the output was limited to only a few options. Chat bots of today are capable of far more sophisticated communications which is why we are starting to see them utilized everywhere including schedule bots, weather bots, friend bots, and even life advice chat bots.
Modern chat bots are able to interpret and respond to natural language since they are created with artificial intelligence as opposed to the primitive programs like the one in the previous paragraph that can only respond to specific commands that were programmed into its database prior to the interaction.
CHAT BOTS POWERED BY ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
Chat bots powered by AI are fairly new and extremely capable. These bots are characterized by a few major aspects including access to a database, an application layer, and an ability to adapt to the user interfaces of popular social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter and popular messaging apps like Slack or WhatsApp. The database usually stores information about customers, interactions, or products it might be promoting. The application layer consists of the instructions that gives an application its capabilities which in this case would be the algorithm the chat bot is mainly being utilized by.
Once substantial improvements are made to these chat bots there will be no real need for humans to ever work at call centers or as part of a support team or a high end e-commerce store or even at customer service kiosks in brick and mortar department stores. That last one in particular will be a nice addition to the automated check out lines because if we are honest with ourselves we will admit that we don’t really enjoy talking to department store employees regardless of the reason. This is just another narrow domain in which AI will revolutionize the way we go about our days.
HOW DO CHAT BOTS WORK?
For this section we will only be talking about chat bots powered by AI that possess natural language processing abilities because all other kinds are either completely useless or extremely outdated. Bots of this caliber can utilize a variety of different steps to convert text or speech into data that it can use to deliver an accurate output.
Some of these include tokenization, named entry recognition, dependency parsing, and sentiment analysis. The tokenization process usually categorizes words that seem to be significant in the bots pursuit of language processing. Named entry recognition looks for categories of words that are already there as opposed to forming new ones. Dependency parsing scans the given text or audio and looks for patterns between subjects and objects that the bot can store away in its database for further use. Sentiment analysis is a way for it to judge how it’s performing the communication with a human. This is a very primitive form of self-assessment that businesses want their bots to have because if the it can sense the customer is getting frustrated with the lack of capability on its end then it can summon a human customer service agent to take over.
DIVING DEEPER INTO THE FASCINATING WORLD OF CHAT BOTS
So how do all these steps come together to make a functioning chat bot? Well, the steps listed above can be used together or individually and a number of different combinations can be utilized to create a bot. They usually take place in what is referred to as the “machine learning layer” of a chat bot. This layer is a part of the larger back end which refers to any action that takes place behind the scenes. The other part of this layer is the data layer.
The data layer is responsible for providing rules for how the chat bot is to decide on a particular response or sets of rules that decide how to parse over text and what kind of patterns to look for. Alternatively, it may just contain very large data sets of human to human conversations in which to parse over.
While the machine learning layer will actually govern which patterns will be looked for and exactly how the bot goes about parsing over text based on the data from the data layer the natural language processing takes place after the two layers listed above have adequately decoded the input received from the front layer which is basically the front end interface in which you interact with the chat bot directly. Defined in this manner the front layer could be the interface of a messaging app or of a popular social media website or a customer service chat window on a website.
On top of everything the Artificial Intelligence industry as a whole is only just beginning to scratch the surface when it comes to the real and truly radical capabilities that make up not only chat bots but other AI technologies as well.