There’s a lot of hype around artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots at the moment as various different financial institutions begin to take them on as part of the way they serve their customers. But, it’s still early days for chatbots and the technology and there is still a long way to go before they’re anywhere near perfect.
While many companies describe their chatbots as ‘virtual assistants’ that are able to deal with your request as a human would, that’s quite different to the real truth. The reality is that if you ask a chatbot something it’s not quite sure about it will probably just come back with a simple OK, regardless of what you asked.
“Currently, most chatbots work using a rule-based technology. They are programmed to respond to thousands of hardwired rules. Any query outside those rules, or asked in a manner that that doesn’t fit into those rules, will elicit a generic response like “OK” or “Is that so?” or something completely nonsensical from a human perspective,” said John Lim, CTO of a Malaysian fintech company.
“The whole point of having an AI is to facilitate human-like conversations. Bots that work using rule-based technology are not intelligent enough to accomplish that. Chatbots still have a long way to go before they can intelligently discuss a concept that they have never encountered before.”
Chatbots are only ever as good as the data they’ve been trained on and have access to. While massive companies like Amazon and Google have access to big data, other companies are not so fortunate and for them creating an intelligent AI chatbot can be both challenging and expensive.
“In the future, the real potential for chatbots lies in their ability to comprehend voice commands. The ability to execute voice commands will democratize access to digital banking services to consumers who are not tech savvy, and deliver a superior customer service. Therefore, companies with massive voice recording samples at their disposal are naturally at an advantage,” said Lim.
“Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana and even Apple’s Siri all have a competitive edge over any emerging chatbot startup. Billion dollar corporations like SAP cannot hope to compete with them, unless they spend a fortune on hundreds of thousands of voice actors to generate samples for their AIs.”
Lim predicts that giants such as Microsoft, Google, Apple, Amazon, and Tencent are not far away from developing more intelligent chatbots. They just need ti make their APIs accessible to independent developers first.