“Get me a human being!” We’ve all said it—probably shouted it—into a phone at some point. As soon as someone realized that most consumer calls to businesses are trivial, we all had to face the frustration of dealing with slow-talking, pre-recorded prompts, asking endless irrelevant questions in attempt to satisfy us before talking to a wage-earning employee. We’re rarely satisfied.
And yet much of the conversation around present-day bots assumes a similar model: bots imitating human conversation, so you don’t have to pay a human to talk to people. Sure, recent advances in AI make this easier. But focusing on offshoring jobs to cyberspace misses the point: bots can listen, think, act, and a gamut of things far more important than talking.