Word on the street is that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is going to destroy the world and take all of our jobs. Whilst this isn’t wholly accurate, it is true that AI is on its way to becoming a permanent fixture in our lives. Though it does pose some risks, most sectors are looking at ways of utilising the technology to enhance areas of their industries. Chatbots in particular, with their accessibility and ability to replicate human speech, have the potential to alter our day to day in ways that we have only recently begun to comprehend. Ecommerce chatbots and typing assistants have paved the way for far more advanced and streamlined AI services that industries are testing as we speak, but who is doing what and where are we headed?
Social Media, Internet Search, and Online Dating
Social media has been utilising AI to configure algorithms for years, but the recent emergence of large language model (LLM) chatbots have introduced another avenue through which to modernise their platforms. Instagram has been working on a chatbot that will have up to thirty different personalities, offering their users the option to ask questions, seek advice, and even have help composing messages to other users. TikTok is also testing an AI chatbot called ‘Tako’ which will provide video recommendations, whilst Snapchat has already released an AI bot, My AI, to answer questions and provide product and travel recommendations. It’s unknown by how much these chatbots will enhance the user experience for these social media platforms, but once they’re fully integrated, it’s likely they’ll become part of the furniture pretty quickly.
In regards to search engines, advanced generative AI is far more likely to become a commonly used feature, perhaps even unknowingly. Google is currently working on finding ways to use generative AI to provide more comprehensive results. This may end up looking like a summary of results which weights up the best options for you, rather than sifting through countless links yourself. Google are also looking to incorporate adds into this to offer opportunities to monetise results as well. Whilst this will undoubtedly lead to more streamlined results, it also takes away the autonomy of scrolling and carrying out your own research, meaning there may end up being less personalisation, with small businesses losing out on valuable customers.
Online dating is another sector that is beginning to experiment with the possibility of chatbots. Teaser AI is a new dating app that allows users to speak to an individual’s chatbot through the app to get a sense of who they are before initiating a conversation with the actual person. Although the app in itself will likely never rival some more established dating apps such as Hinge or Tinder, if the chatbot aspect is well-received, there could be scope for it to be incorporated into these platforms.
After banking, retail is expected to be the sector to spend the most on AI in 2023. This is mainly because it has the potential to be crucial to loss prevention, a priority to most retail companies across the world. Whilst analysts maintain that the in-person shopping experience will remain an ‘important anchor’ for customers, AI could be used to track consumer trends more accurately; from using facial recognition to gauge people’s reactions to certain products, to tracking what people pick up and put down the most. There is also potential for retail stores to transition to entirely cashierless, with more and more US supermarkets aiming to replicate the model established by Amazon Go.
Retailers are also experimenting more with chatbots. Israeli start-up, TasteGPT, is aiming to transform the food industry by gathering data from a multitude of sources to keep track of latest trends in people’s eating habits, providing the information to food outlets to better design their menus, stock their shelves, and update their recipes. Mattress brand, Casper, have also created “insomnobot”; a chatbot for insomniacs that can chat between 11pm and 5am.
Google is working hard to integrate AI into their workspace feature to better cater to the needs of office workers. They are looking to include new details such as the ability to summarise email threads, transcribe meeting notes and recap group chats, all in the blink of an eye. This is certainly something that has the potential to become a normal part of the day-to-day office life, as it exemplifies the possibilities of AI when used in conjunction with humans to enhance efficiency by renouncing menial tasks to allow humans more time for the more creative and high stakes responsibilities.
When ChatGPT was initially released earlier this year, it sent education workers and institutions into a frenzy trying to combat the huge plagiarism risk. It seems the tables have now turned, however, as many have accepted that AI is here to stay and are looking to new ways of incorporating it to enhance learning. Teachers in the US are exploring how chatbots can actually improve critical thinking and analysis, with some even encouraging their students to write assignments using the AI technology and then annotate it, focusing on errors, lapses in judgement, and gaps in contextual analysis. Not only is it more interactive, but they also point out that it makes homework not as daunting and allows them to flex their critical muscles, which is largely the goal of education anyway. Educators have also noted that analysing the prompts used by students to generate an answer from chatbots could prove to be a crucial marker of how well they have grasped the topic.
From a teacher’s perspective, chatbots provide them with an opportunity to generate test questions, summarise information for students with different reading levels, aid students for whom English isn’t their first language, and make learning more interactive in the classroom; through ChatGPT playing the role of a debate opponent, for example.
All in all, it seems the perspective towards AI and chatbots is beginning to shift to a more positive one which values how it can enhance industries rather than hinder them. Whilst some of the prospects laid out above aren’t likely to catch on in terms of our day to day living, there are certainly gaps in efficiency, knowledge and effectiveness that chatbots and AI have the opportunity to fill.