Empathetic machines favored by skeptics but might creep out believers

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In a study, the researchers reported that people preferred receiving sympathetic and empathetic responses from a chatbot -- a machine programmed to simulate a conversation -- than receiving a response from a machine without emotions, said S. Shyam Sundar, James P. Jimirro Professor of Media Effects and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory. People express sympathy when they feel compassion for a person, whereas they express empathy when they are actually feeling the same emotions of the other person, said Sundar. As healthcare providers look for ways to cut costs and improve service, he added these findings could help developers create conversational technologies that encourage people to share information about their physical and mental health states, for example. "Increasingly, as we have more and more chatbots and more AI-driven conversational agents in our midst," said Sundar. "And, as more people begin to turn to their smart speaker or chatbot on a health forum for advice, or for social and emotional support, the question becomes: To what extent should these chatbots and smart speakers express human-like emotions?"


3 Things Companies Overlook When Deploying Chatbots

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AI-enhanced computer programs able to hold audio or text-based conversations that simulate convincingly how a human would interact… Whatever you want to call these code-based dialoguers, they are taking the enterprise by storm. From marketing, customer service, and e-commerce bots helping people purchase everything from flowers to flights, to workforce productivity'manager' bots delivering reminders, deadlines, and tips tailored to individual employees… companies are deploying bots to serve all manner of objectives. Such initiatives are also a common entry point for enterprise adoption of machine learning, but they are also just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the opportunities and the risks of and artificial intelligence (AI). What follows are three areas companies often overlook when deploying chatbots. Chatbots are now being used by brands for service interactions, including simple outreach, education, feedback and survey collection, questions and answers (Q&A), tips and advice, etc.


Conversational Banking Will Transform the Financial Services Industry

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Leveraging the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and the surging popularity of messaging apps, conversational interfaces are enabling unprecedented banking engagement and re-establishing relationship banking. Chatbots are a simple, lightweight solution to a host of legacy banking problems, giving progressive banks and credit unions a competitive industry edge. The arrival of the digital age has disrupted the retail banking industry and altered the relationship between banks and their customers. Where banking once meant interacting with customers in brick-and-mortar branches, new digital banking channels like websites and mobile apps have opened an entirely new way to reach customers and do business. Online and mobile banking have allowed banks to reach customers more easily and frequently, and have given customers unprecedented access to their financial information.


10 of the Most Innovative Chatbots on the Web

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If you've ever used a customer support livechat service, you've probably experienced that vague, sneaking suspicion that the "person" you're chatting with might actually be a robot. Like the endearingly stiff robots we've seen in countless movies – tragic, pitiful machines tortured by their painfully restricted emotional range, futilely hoping to attain a greater degree of humanity – chatbots often sound almost human, but not quite. Their speech is awkward, the cadence somehow off. It's the online equivalent of the "Uncanny Valley," a mysterious region nestled somewhere between the natural and the synthetic that offers a disturbing glimpse at how humans are making machines that could eventually supplant humans, if only their designers could somehow make their robotic creations less nightmarish. Love them or hate them, chatbots are here to stay.


10 Key Principles for Designing Effective Conversational Interfaces - ChatBot Pack

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From punch cards to command lines to graphical user interfaces (GUIs), the way people communicate with computers has evolved over the last half century. In those historic eras users were required to communicate on the computer's terms, entering inputs that were carefully crafted to stay within parameters the machine could understand. But now, with the advent of artificial intelligence, a new stage in the evolution of human-computer communication has begun to take root. Conversational user interfaces are designed to allow people to interact with computers naturally, without having to limit their inputs to a narrow range of options the machine has been pre-programmed to handle. In fact, conversational interfaces are by definition designed to mimic the way humans talk to one another.