FARCON 2017 Sneak Peek – Chatbots and the Future of User Interfaces

By Kyle Polich, Data Skeptic

Working in your computer’s command line gives you incredible power to make the machine do precisely what you want. The command line can often be very efficient on batch operations, yet comes at the cost of mastering the tools.

GUIs, on the other hand, give us higher level abstractions that can make us more efficient. Although, that efficiency depends entirely on design. All too often a maze of disorganized menus which can change at random during software “update” is all that passes for design.

I’d like to have the best of both worlds—the ability to execute fast higher level tasks why still having the option to create highly specific instructions of precisely what I want a computer to do. The command line is open ended, but is picky about syntax. GUIs strive to be easy but often lack customization or personalization. Both are static interfaces that often become puzzles to solve as we struggle with the question of how to get the machine to do what we want.

“Every organization should be thinking now about how to leverage this technology”

Advancements in artificial intelligence and natural language processing in the last few years are opening the door for the emergence of Chatbot interfaces which are able to engage users more interactively. We are in very early days of these types of interfaces, but it’s only a matter of time before we’re thinking less about what commands to issue a computer and having an interactive conversation about what end goal we want, with the computer formulating a plan and asking for our approval on how to get there.

I predict the very notion of a user interface is going to change radically in the near future, but we’re in very early days of this. Still, the opportunity for applying Chatbots to industry is a growing area of innovation. While many Chatbots deployed to date are more gimmicks or marketing concepts, these are just the first wave. Every organization should be thinking now about how to leverage this technology, just as organizations in the early to mid 90s (that survived) figured out how to extend their business onto the internet.

Among a few exciting activities I’m involved in at FARCON, I’m looking forward to sharing my research and work in the Chatbot space. Attendees will discover the current landscape, get exposed to some use cases, and learn the fundamentals of how to construct Chatbots to be useful tools.

Check out Kyle’s session: The Opportunity for Chatbots in eCommerce

Kyle Polich hosts the Data Skeptic podcast, your source for a perspective of scientific skepticism on topics in statistics, machine learning, big data, artificial intelligence, and data science. In addition to his session on Chatbots, Kyle will be hosting a taping of the podcast at FARCON on Aug. 24. 

FARCON 2017 schedule→