Reflections on Artificial Intelligence Based Chat Bots

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It has been years since, applications and softwares like, Apple’s SIRI and IBM’s Watson have introduced personal assistance and AI for practical use cases to consumers and enterprises. In recent months, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Amazon, all opened up Chat frameworks or chat-based assistant.

Anyway, the entry of the giants in the area of chat bots and personal assistance has triggered a lot of startups get started in the space. Over the last few months, many startups got funded. Some of them Digital Genius, Luka.ai, x.ai, Ozlo, Maluuba, Arya, Mezi, talla, GrowBot, Findo.io, Your.MD etc.

In 2009 we at GloMantra, where I was CTO, started working on a personal assistance and developed assistance similar to SIRI before its acquisition by Apple. We provided voice and text activated actionable recommendations on Mobile (also supported Facebook and Web App). The solution was implemented using variety of technologies like voice to text, NLP, NLU, semantic search, user personalization (interest profile). What we developed was a text message type interface with output as text and action buttons or chat plus matching-recommendations.

Now that everywhere chat based personal assistance are coming up, I was thinking, did GloMantra did the personal assistance too early and, rather, did we give up too early (ran out of money in 2013)?

A lot of technologies like Natural language processing, Intent classification, semantic search, artificial intelligence are now much better shape and available as open sources, there are a lot of possibilities that AI based chat box solving variety of problems and tasks.

Anyway, now the market is getting flooded with a variety of chat bot startups. I recently read a comment of Phil Libin, the former CEO of Evernote who is now a VC. He is quoted as, “I’ve heard 200 bot pitches over the last couple of months.”

But is this market in its early hype cycles? Having done some work in the area, getting it right to handle variety of unpredictable way of human interactions is not that easy too. So, it will be interesting to see how many do it right and survive / succeed. But it is for sure that the AI based chatbots are going to be there solving consumer to enterprise to human-machine interface use cases.

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