Bots and men

by bold-lichterman

After Microsoft and its Bot Framework backed by its Cortana artificial intelligence program, it’s Facebook’s turn to launch into the bot arena today with its Messenger Bot Store. These shattering announcements of the locomotives of the digital world tell us a lot about our connected lives and utopias. If the digital world often rhymes with somewhat cyclothymic successions of delirious enthusiasm sequences, cooled by sudden returns to reality, conversational services augur a real change of scale, both in our uses and in our relationship. to brands.

Any service is soluble in a bot

Conversational services are messaging or “chat” interfaces where we have to dialogue with an artificial intelligence – sometimes enriched and supervised by the man himself – to access a service. Concretely, tomorrow, booking a train ticket, triggering a bank transfer, or simply spending time to be less alone with your new friend the bot, will come down to a succession of textual interactions in an interface as banal and skeletal as the one of the SMS application.

This movement is the consequence of a kind of alignment of the famous planets “uses” and “technologies”. Our connected practices have become deeply and durably mobile and massively focused on messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or WeChat. At the same time, the effectiveness of certain technologies has accelerated in recent years with great advances in the field of artificial intelligence, such as machine learning or the automation of natural language analysis.

Too many apps distract the user

It is a chestnut tree but the observation is still edifying. Mobile has become omnipresent and central in our lives: we compulsively consult it more than 150 times a day. It is the site of a constantly updated disorder, of a succession of interruptions. Uses are no longer concentrated on a few applications that relate to interpersonal communication – SMS, messaging, emails, social networks – potentially relegating wagons of applications to posterity.

Like the minimalist and definitive Google home page on the Web, messaging platforms are emerging as the dominant starting point of our connected experiences on mobile through equally bare interfaces: text and conversations where the oral and the written mix. We write as we speak and we speak more and more on networks with text.

The challenge, through conversational services, is to adapt to our (new) attention capacities that are increasingly limited and superficial. As videos have shortened on the Web to adjust to this new paradigm, interactions with services are fragmented and become more sequential through natural and universal interfaces. We absorb the elements one by one. There is no more research but immediate answers. Less “frills”, but efficiency through instant interactions that offer each of us messages that correspond to us so well that they constitute real responses – depending on our personality but also on the context in which we find ourselves .

The dissolution of traditional interfaces

The emergence of these conversational services is in a sense similar to what we observe with connected objects. They are a response to this latent inefficiency of the smartphone. Like connected objects – with virtual assistants such as Echo Amazon – traditional interfaces are disappearing and blending into the conversation, whether the conversation is ultimately oral or textual. What determines service is no longer what we see. What matters is elsewhere: it is the sophistication of the algorithms that are implemented, which learn and transform the data captured into actions to impact the consumer.

Reinvent the connection

The application on the mobile disappears and intelligence migrates to the network. The smartphone is in a way “devitalized”, finally relegated to the rank of simple connected screen. The stake is no longer in the interface but in this famous conversation: its instantaneity, its reactivity, its humanity. It is no longer a question of stylizing screens but of conversations to transform a relationship with a machine into a human relationship. Moreover, it is more of a work of creator of fictions. The bot becomes a character, a personality that must be imagined with a central question: To what extent must the bot resemble a human in order not to fall into the troubling areas of the “strange valley“?

For brands, everything remains to be built with gigantic spaces of opportunity to create useful services that facilitate users’ daily lives. These are new postures to imagine: more intimate, natural and familiar. In short, it is only the link, like the trade at the beginning finally – which is a story of relations and exchanges. It remains to be seen whether a Hermès bot and a Carrefour bot will converse with us in the same way.

Thibault celierThibault celier, Director of Services and Innovations Novedia, the digital agency of VISEO.

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