A chatbot, also called the “conversational agent”, is a computer program that is able to simulate a conversation with one or more people by exchanging voice or text.
This tool is now widely used on the internet by branded customer service or online retailers via instant messaging.
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Plan de l'article
- The history of chatbot and the emergence of artificial intelligence
- Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have bet on chatbots
- The Eugene Goostman conversation agent
- Customized virtual assistants
- What is a chatbot?
- How does a chatbot work?
- What is a chatbot used for?
The history of chatbot and the emergence of artificial intelligence
Historically, the first chatbot called Eliza was developed in 1966 by Joseph Weizenbaum, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the USA. The program, which simulated a Rogerian psychotherapist, reformulated most of his interlocutor’s statements into questions he asked in return.
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Originally, the chatbot works by reliing on a database of questions and answers that are supported by certain keywords that are discovered in the conversation. But the progress of artificial intelligence, more precisely machine learning, has made it possible to create much more advanced conversation agents. They are equipped with a very powerful system for analyzing natural language and thus able to improve during use.
Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have bet on chatbots
In fact, chatbots have gradually evolved into virtual servants over the decade of 2010. They are able to perform tasks and make suggestions based on the preferences of the person who serve them. Apple (with Siri), Google (with Google Now), Facebook, and Microsoft (with Cortana) have invested a lot in developing conversation agents to make them real assistants. The virtual assistant Viv, the company and provides brands with tools to create specialized chatbots and integrate them into their respective messaging services.
The Eugene Goostman conversation agent
Another famous conversation agent is Eugene Goostman. An experiment by the University of Reading, organized in London at the Royal Society in 2014, was presented as the first convincingly passed Turing test. A statement that actually seemed exaggerated.
Customized virtual assistants
Users can therefore surround themselves with customized virtual assistants that meet their specific needs:
- inform you about news on a specific topic;
- book a means of transport or accommodation
- order a meal;
- search for a product;
- monitor a field of activity;
- answer a technical question;
- a schedule organize…
Ultimately, chatbots could even replace mobile applications because they offer a much easier and more intuitive way of interaction. The uses of chatbots are potentially unlimited and their improvement is now correlated with the progress of artificial intelligence.
What is a chatbot?
Chatbot is the connection of the words chat and robot. So a chatbot is a conversation robot software with weak AI. When combined with a messaging interface, it can analyze and understand a person’s written or spoken messages, simulating a simple conversation. A chatbot plays the role of a virtual consultant.
The first chatbot, called ELIZA, was developed in 1966 by Joseph Weizenbaum, an American professor at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). It was able to make a question from a statement to formulate. More chatbots developed later. The most famous is probably ALICE, which was developed by Richard Wallace in the 1990s.
The explosive spread of instant messaging and the need for fast and available support has accelerated the online presence of chatbots. Most chatbots today don’t have the capabilities of virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, but they’re getting more and more sophisticated. They become more natural in a way and are able to answer complex enquiries. The tools to create a chatbot are now available to everyone.
How does a chatbot work?
The chatbot receives information that it analyzes thanks to a database. It tries to understand the user’s intent and retrieve the most relevant information . there is then an answer that is a simple given sentence or information which is based on a database, for example.
Chatbots can use a range of automated rules, natural language comprehension (NLU), natural language processing (NLP), and machine learning (ML). There are basically 2 types of chatbots.
Chatbots based on predefined rules
The main way a chatbot works is to respond to a keyword or phrase stored in a database of thousands of entries. With a simple form of NLP, they respond to specific input and give simple automated answers. The simplest models only use buttons.
The most sophisticated chatbots use natural language comprehension, natural language processing , and machine learning to analyze user intent. You can understand multiple variations of phrases and sentences and react in a natural and personal way. The most advanced chatbots are able to learn independently.
What is a chatbot used for?
A chatbot is mostly used to improve a user’s experience by adding a personal touch to a company’s customer service. For example, these chatbots often have a first name. They are often the first contact with a customer on the internet. You can take over the simplest and repetitive tasks such as changing your password, requesting information, or checking in to a hotel, reducing work for the company’s people. You can solve the most common problems and then forward the conversation to human customer support when needed. A chatbot has the advantage of being available 24/7. It can also plan tasks and learn more about the needs of a customers experience.
Chatbots are mostly used for customer support. They can be found today in different areas :
- in telemarketing
- information services
- in healthcare
- in toys
- Online payments and purchases
- in the financial sector
- in the hotel and hospitality industry