The Doppler Quarterly Fall 2017 - Page 32

Are Chatbots and Voice Assistants Superfluous? David Linthicum & Chett Rubenstein While it may be convenient to talk to your computer, today chatbots pro- vide little value to many processes, yet they get an inordinate amount of attention from providers. There’s yet another cloud service from AWS: Amazon Lex, which lets developers build conversational inter- faces into applications for voice and text. It uses the same deep learning technologies that power Ama- zon's Alexa voice assistant. Lex lets you quickly build natural language conversa- tional bots, aka chatbots. Microsoft has a similar technology, called the Microsoft Bot Framework. This seems to be a common service that most public cloud providers are looking to offer. Many third par- ties offer chatbot technology as well. But the question is not if we can have a voice conver- sation with our applications—we clearly can—but if we should have a conversation with our applications? 30 | THE DOPPLER | FALL 2017 Natural language processing has been around for some time. But only recently has it gotten practical. Still, it’s not perfect. Most of us have been frustrated with misunderstand- ings as the computer tries to take something as imprecise as your voice and make sense of what you actually mean. Even with the best speech processing, no chatbots are at 100-percent recognition, much less 100-percent comprehension. It seems very inefficient to resort to imprecise sys- tems when we have more precise ones available. Even if they were 100-percent accurate in their recogni- tion and comprehension, why use voice? If things need to talk to each other, let’s use direct digital mechanisms, which are way more accurate than me talking to a machine. One distinct advantage of cloud computing is to auto- mate things that have yet to be automated, in many cases removing people from the system. In other words, let the machines chat at 100-percent accuracy rather than have me talk to a chatbot. The ultimate