December 28, 2015

"Artificial intelligence is coming to a messaging app near you."

Computerworld Google has been working on a messaging-based chat bot for a year, according to The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper described the service as a Google Now-like virtual assistant that you could send messages to and get the answers back as messages. by Mike Elgan

'It's not clear whether this service would be available within Google's Hangouts or Messenger service, whether it could be available on other platforms, such as over SMS, or whether it would be a new messaging service. One source told the Journal that Google would open up its chatbot as an extensible platform, which means other companies could build special-purpose chatbots based on Google's data.

'Messaging apps are a great place to place an A.I. chatbot because we already spend so much time in those apps. We've accepted the bare-bones, text-only UI, which eliminates some of the uncertainties of virtual assistants that rely on voice recognition and spoken replies.

'But messaging chatbots also come with risks. Because human beings are complex creatures plagued by cognitive biases, irrational thinking and emotional needs, the line between messaging with a friend and messaging with A.I. will be fine to nonexistent for some people.

'Chatbot users will find gratification in their XiaoIce-like chatbots for the same reason people love dogs. Chatbots will make people feel like they're interacting with another person, a real friend. But unlike real humans, who can be self-centered and detached, chatbots will probably have dog-like loyalty and selflessness. They will always be there for you and will always have time for you. The combination of intelligence, loyalty and faithfulness is irresistible to the human mind.

'So the risk with messaging chatbots is that they could facilitate a preference for maintaining a relationship with A.I., rather than with other humans, at least for some people.'

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