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We all grew up watching or reading science fiction. Movies have designed specific image of robots, personal assistants. Iron Man’s Jarvis is widely famous for his thinking skills, automating life. Nowadays chatbots are one of the much-talked topic among tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, developers, and futurists. Tech giants are betting hard on technologies like machine learning, natural language processing. But, why everyone suddenly got so much interested in chatbots? Why every other tech company, startups are talking about chatbots? What future does it hold?

Remember the days when the world doesn’t have the Internet, using piles of reference books, encyclopedias or dictionaries. People would spend days in libraries if they want to learn something. When the internet was created websites were the hot topics. We could access tons of data in seconds through a website. Websites helped us to organize huge data into a beautiful way. After the smartphone boom when iPhone and Android systems were introduced by respected companies apps were the trending topics. People started preferring apps over using websites because apps were simple, sophisticated and had very fewer chances of spam.

“Human language is the new user interface”
– Satya Nadela

Now when it comes to chatbots, chatbot’s are simple and user-friendly. You don’t need to install chatbot in your mobile as they are already there when you use messengers apps like Facebook Messenger, Google Allo, Telegram, Kik etc. So forgot the memory issues. You can book a cab, or fix an appointment with a doctor, or schedule your meetings with just a few messages. Chatbots are making everything easier chatbots are new apps.

The era of conversational agents started when first ELIZA bot created by MIT Artificial Intelligence laboratory passed Turing Test. After it, many experiments kept happening. Apple launched Siri back in 2010, Siri considered as first personal assistant to enter the consumer market. Siri was standalone App on ios created by a startup. Later, Apple acquired that start-up and embedded Siri in its operating system. There was big reason doing so. Bots are the future. When it came to NLP Apple was the first major brand to introduce its personal assistant.

We saw the intro to chatbot boom in 2016 when Google introduced its smart messaging application ‘Allo’ following that event Facebook entered in bot’s market with it’s Facebook M. Other messaging services like Kik, Telegram, WeChat, Skype are also offering bot platforms. In first 8 months of 2016 alone chatbot’s had raised over $170M+ in funding.

Types of Chatbot Models:

Retrieval Based Model: In retrieval based models there is set of pre-defined responses. When the query runs chatbots picks a relative response from a set of collection of pre-defined responses. Retrieval Based models can’t generate new sentences. In this type of models, we don’t need to worry about grammar mistakes.

Early development of chatbot’s started with Retrieval Based models. ELIZA bot, first one to pass widely famous Turing Test was based on the retrieval based model.

Between 1995 to 2002, Richard Wallace created ALICE bot, known as the advance intellect of ELIZA bot which won Loebner Prize for 3 years. ALICE bot was based on Artificial Intelligence Markup Language (AIML). AIML was XML dialect created for using natural language.

Generative Models:

Unlike retrieval based models, generative models use advanced Machine Learning and NLP algorithms to generate responses. Generative models are quite intelligent. It creates a word to word sentence based on input query which sometimes causes grammatical errors. Generative Models are hard to train but once trained they can outperform retrieval based models.

Generative type of models considered as future of chatbots.

Implementation of generative based models for NLP is hard when compares with retrieval based models. But services like api.ai or wit.ai makes it pretty easy.

The technological world started taking shape in the form of Artificial Intelligence. Chatbots are apps laced with AI. In future, every small/big business will have chatbot. Isn’t the era of chatbot’s begun?

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Posted by Chetan Badhe

Passionately Curious!

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