Chatbots are the future of UX

James is sitting in his living room with a couple of friends, the hockey game is starting soon. James get his phone out and start typing in his favourite chat application.

James: Hey I need 2 large pizzas at my place

PizzaPlace: Hello James. Sure! Both fully dressed as usual?

James: No 1 dressed 1 all meat

PizzaPlace: Perfect, your order of 1 large fully dressed and 1 meat lover pizza should be at your place in about 30 minutes for a total cost of 31.24$ charged to your credit card.

James: Thx

About 28 minutes later

PizzaPlace: Hello James, our delivery man just arrived on your street, he’ll be at your door in about 2 minutes.

PizzaPlace isn’t a person. It’s a chatbot. It’s able to understand natural language and drive a conversation to attain a goal. It can instantly access any data source, at any scale, and use it in a conversation to save time or provide personalized interactions. It does not simply reproduce human behaviour, it goes farther and faster. It’s the next step in human-machine relations.

Why use chatbots? The fully intuitive user interface is not an awesome website, it’s not an app, it’s not visual at all. The only mechanic humans understand in a pitch is natural language. Not because it is efficient or even beautiful, but because we use it all the time. We do not think about it, we’ve just been doing it since we’re toddlers. So, for any interactions that do not require data visualization and manipulation, bots can and will probably take over. Mobile phones, with their limited display capacity, just made it even clearer that at some point, the screen will have to go.

Order a pizza, ask a question about parking, find your new house. The old school way of doing those things was talking to another human. Our current tech toys places us alone in front of a screen to do the same thing. What we do right now is train humans to act like machines, now we’ll train machines to speak like humans. It’s because we’re used to act like machines that talking like a human to a computer seems weird. It a couple of generation, putting your finger on the image of a button to execute a function will be as anachronistic as riding a horse to go to work is now.

I expect 2017 to be remembered as the year chatbots started to get a foot outside labs and tech demos. The narrow AI era is here. AI systems available as services via the cloud bring us to a time where we can access those complex technologies as a manageable feature set that can be used to power any activity. Speaking human is not the challenge anymore, it’s now how far we’re ready to reinvent.

 

Author

Jean-François Grenier, Project Manager