Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 6 seconds

A year and a half ago, there were a few websites that offered online chat, but only during business hours. Now, almost every retail, cell phone, or travel site has a bot that’s always ready to chat. Do they really have someone standing by just for a chat? The answer is, of course, “No.” Instead of an employee typing to you in the wee hours of the morning, there is an artificial intelligence on the other end of the line. You’ve reached a Chatbot.

“How Can I Help You?”

Practically indistinguishable from a human on the other side of the keyboard, chatbots are constantly getting better at answering our questions, predicting our needs, and knowing when to change over to a live person.

The days of Chatbots answering our questions about an interesting product, a cell phone feature, or hotel experience is just the beginning. In the future, these emerging AI programs are going to become vital to our daily lives.

“What Is Your Emergency?”

The idea of emergency services being administered by an AI sounds scary. Can we ever trust a bot in our hour of need? But, as these machines respond and predict our needs better, they are a natural fit to help us through a crisis, too.

Imagine calling 911 and being connected to an operator who never gets rattled, never mis-speaks, and instantly knows your location to send help. Chatbots would make decisions based on algorithms and calculations all while keeping cool under pressure. Most importantly, these AI’s will be able to draw on thousands or even millions of previous calls from all other Chatbots to learn and adapt, perhaps dispatching help before you’re done explaining your need.

“Enjoy Your Flight!”

Airports can be overwhelming even to a seasoned traveler who’s under duress to catch a flight on-time. Shifting schedules, delays, or cancelations add stress to air travel, but trying to get an answer to a question makes it worse—ticket counters are jammed, staff is minimal, and while you’re dutifully waiting in line to ask about your gate number, your plane might be taking off!

Enter Chatbots. Instead of fighting through a crowd of people to get to the information desk or wandering around looking for signs to point you in the right direction, banks of AI Chatbots are starting to pop up at airports around the world. These are more than the self-check-in kiosks you may be familiar with; expect airport Chatbots to be fully interactive, offering easy-to navigate on-screen questions, directions, and options.

In the not-too-distant future, these may come equipped with a projected virtual assistant, in the airline uniform, to listen to your question and respond with a friendly smile in your native language to help you on your way.

“Did That Answer Your Question?”

Perhaps the most popular of Chatbots are those already in our homes. Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant are all AI Chatbots programmed to respond to our voices. These AI systems are getting more and more sophisticated by the day.

While they sound mechanical and cold as of yet, the day is quickly coming that the voice we hear will be warmer, more convincingly human, and conversation will become more naturally integrated with our daily lives. In the very near future, thanks to Chatbot technology, our mornings may start with a full conversation with Alexa or Siri.

“Goodbye. …And Have A Good Day, Dear!”

As one of the first types of AI with which we’ve become comfortable, Chatbots have proven our capability to embrace machine interactions. As these bots integrate more and more seamlessly into our society, will we begin to prefer bot responses over humans –or, will we even notice any difference?

Last modified on Monday, 26 August 2019
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Deborah Huyett

Deborah Huyett is a professional freelance writer with experience working for a variety of industries. She enjoys and works with all types of writing, and she has been published or ghostwritten for blogs, newsletters, web pages, and books. A former English teacher, Deborah’s passion for writing has always been grounded in the mechanics while appreciating the art of writing. She approaches projects as creative challenges, matching voice and tone for any audience.

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