Chatbots have started hitting their stride. It has been predicted, by numerous pundits and journalists, that chatbots and AI will become a significant force in the coming year. It makes sense. A company can create and train a chatbot to aid in support requests and much more, thus allowing AI to take care of a task that will no longer require a warm body.
I know, it sounds a bit singularity-esque. But this is where we are now and, to be honest, the whole chatbot-as-support could wind up being a very viable solution for a lot of companies.
One such service that has been testing the "chatbot" waters is an app called Drippler. Drippler started out as nothing more than an app that offered tips and tricks for Android. The app would configure itself to your specific handset, so you only received tips for that one device. It worked well. But after a time, Drippler expanded into chatbot territory and I decided to give it a whirl.
I have to say, I was somewhat impressed.
The truth behind the Drippler chatbot
You quickly learn that Drippler isn't a true chatbot. What Drippler does is allow you to ask a question and then the service will send the question out to its associated "Tech Wizards". Eventually your question will be assigned to one of the Wizards, who will then attempt to resolve your issue in a one-on-one chat.
When I tested the "Wizard", I asked a fairly basic question, "How do I block notifications from appearing in the notification shade?" The answer was, well, not exactly correct and I pointed out the error.
I understand this is all very subjective and one person's solution may or may not work. But what this immediately revealed to me is this:
- Not all "chatbots" are actually chatbots
- Drippler is crowdsourcing this feature
- The idea behind Drippler's "Tech Wizard" is fairly well executed
I believe the model that Drippler has created can work and work well. Crowdsource support is something that's been going on for a long, long time. The open source community has been doing this since day one (essentially this is what tech forums are). Drippler has executed this quite well and is a technology other companies could seriously build upon.
A great start
I believe that Drippler is onto something, something that could be adopted by numerous companies and communities. Two groups in particular that would gain instant benefit from such an app would be the open source community and Google. Every Linux distribution could adopt this model and make crowdsourcing support and incredibly easy feat. Imagine Canonical offering a Ubuntu Linux chatbot support app that works under the same model as Drippler? From either the desktop or your mobile device, launch the app and ask your question. This app could draw from a vast community of users more than willing to assist.
Google could (and probably would) take this one step farther and use the crowdsourcing as a means to train the chatbot such that the endgame would be to fully automate the tool. We all know that Google has the resources and technological know how to pull off such a feat. In the end, every platform they ship could contain the official "Android" or "Chrome OS" support chatbot that has accrued massive amounts of data from the "learning" period, using actual humans to answer the questions.
Such support systems would be a boon to mobile users. No longer would they have to Google their issues and wade through page after page of forums and such to find their answer. Instead, they launch the chatbot support app, ask their question, and await the response.
This technology could also be applied to IT pros. Having an app that connects technology specialists together would be not just an amazing accomplishment, it would also be a godsend to any support technician out in the field. How many times have you been on a job and have needed to google an issue. The last thing you need is for your client to see you having to resort to searching for the answer. A mobile app would obfuscate this away from the client at the same time it assisted the technician. Win-win all around.
Make this happen
Someone pick up on what Drippler is doing and make it happen across the board. I want to see this give birth to chatbot-esque support apps for Ubuntu, Redhat, SUSE, Android, Chrome OS, Windows, Mac, Cisco, and nearly every piece of technology available. The idea of crowdsourcing the automation of support chatbots could be a viable and cost-effective solution for so many.
Okay, Google, are you listening?
- Mobile AI: Chatbot intelligence masquerading as the real deal (TechRepublic)
- AI chatbots are overhyped and unimpressive, say developers (TechRepublic)
- Kore's new bot platform can build the chatbot of your dreams, without making you write the code (TechRepublic)
- Big data's big disappointment: Why AI personalization is pathetic (TechRepublic)
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.