Will chatbots ever love? Our world of beings: concierges, coaches and companions

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“How many others are you in love with?” “641.”

If the aspirational goal is for us to have a truly human-like conversational assistant like Samantha in Her, where are we today?

Conversational AI landscape: taskbots, digital beings, concierges, coaches, and companions. Sample only of the hundreds of players in this market

Digital Concierges: your delegates

Doing things on your behalf. Most traditional software can be considered non-conversational concierges.

Digital Coaches: for embetterment

Tools to help you become a better you. Could be educational, well-being, professional development, mental, or physical.

Top Articles on How Businesses are using Bots:

– 5 Inspirational Startups Using AI and Chatbot Technology

– How Businesses are Winning with Chatbots & Ai

– 50 of the best chatbot use cases

– Chatbot Conference 2019 in NYC

Digital Companions: serving our social needs

Addressing our most basic social needs: a companion we can talk to and feel happier. Interestingly, they don’t necessarily have to be very sophisticated: the older audience may remember Tamagotchis — simple digital beings on your keyring you had to feed by pressing a button. They’d digitally die if you didn’t feed them.

What’s a Digital Being?

“Digital being” is a simple way to describe software or devices that we build relationships with over time. It’s my attempt to describe my own experience as this particular kind of software started coming into my life and I felt myself building a mental idea of that software more akin to how I think of people: an entity with a name that I have some kind of empathy and emotional tie with. Digital concierges, coaches and companions are three types of digital beings.

Where’s all this going?

In general, we’re seeing products move both up and across (both left and right). Xiaoice is one example of an exceptionally broad digital being — it has hundreds of specialised skills to act as a concierge, it has coaching roles and it has a bundle for companionship too, in very sophisticated ways.

So, will robots ever love?

They can certainly pretend — sometimes described as “cognitive love” — the series of steps, gestures, and actions that suggest the experience of love. Emotions in general one could argue are one of the innate human superiority, that can never be replicated. Closely related is research into consciousness, for example, integrated information theory.

But alas, “innate human superiority” is one of those judgements that keeps needing to be reset, so the true answer lies firmly in the world of mystery today.

What obstacles remain?

There are three main areas of research: see a related post on the key research topics about why conversational AI is hard.

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Will chatbots ever love? Our world of beings: concierges, coaches and companions