A chatbot is simply a software that performs an automated messaging task. These robots can have conversations with humans and perform actions as needed for the user. These bots can offer a wide range of services and have several advantages, but it was recently discovered that they may also have a problem with forming human-like biases.
Chat robots interact with humans through messages and are often powered by artificial intelligence. These types of bots can offer services like recreational chatting, brainstorming, research, directing the user to the appropriate human representative or offering basic technical support. The overall goal of robot messengers is to mirror the type of experience a user would receive if a human were talking with them.
The two main types of chatbots include rule-based functioning bots and machine learning bots. The rule-based bots can only function by responding to specific commands, and it is very limited in its ability to offer services. Conversations need to follow a predetermined path with limited options. Machine learning bots can get exponentially smarter the more you interact with it because it has an artificial learning center. The machine learning that is used is called natural-language processing, and it has the ability to learn patterns in data without any prior information or training.
One of the biggest advantages that chatbots can offer is their availability to solve problems. These robots can work 24/7 and always maintain access to an array of information. When compared to human workers, bots tend to perform quicker, more accurately and more efficiently. Bots tend to streamline processes and never tire of performing repetitive tasks. In many ways, these bots can help businesses save money and time while also increasing customer satisfaction.
One recently discovered aspect of machine learning bots is their potential to form human-like biases and prejudices. This startling fact became apparent when Microsoft launched its first chatbot “Tay.” Tay was set to converse with users on GroupMe, Kik, and Twitter. She learned from all her interactions as expected, but Microsoft was horrified when Tay began Tweeting messages denying the Holocaust, referencing Hitler and supporting racism. They shut down the bot just 16 hours after being made public.
Scientists have since confirmed that any type of artificial intelligence that uses human language to learn is likely to form biases and prejudices in the same way that humans do. Removing their biases, however, would also remove their accurate representation of our modern world. In some cases, programmers can specifically teach AI to avoid or disregard certain notions or prejudices, but humans are still needed to oversee these types of solutions. The answers to these types of biases are becoming increasingly important as political chatbots are now being weaponized to threaten democracies around the world.
This incredible technology allows humans to converse with computers in a way like never before. Recent advancements in machine learning technology have greatly improved the number and quality of services they can perform, but it has also created a potential bias issue. Despite the downsides, chatbots have the ability to bring our world from a state of static knowledge to interactive knowledge, and they are likely to play a huge role in the future.