Justin Lee

Oh, how the headlines blared:{#94f4}

"...the 2016 bot paradigm shift is going to be far more disruptive and interesting than the last decade's move from Web to mobile apps."
"...... 2016年的机器人范式转变将比过去十年从网络应用程序迁移到移动应用程序更具破坏性和趣味性。"

Chatbots were
Chatbots were The Next Big Thing. {#195b}

Our hopes were sky high. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, the industry was ripe for a new era of innovation: it was time to start socializing with machines.{#b773}

And why wouldn't they be? All the road signs pointed towards insane success.{#46a7}

Messaging was huge! Conversational marketing was a sizzling new buzzword! WeChat! China!

Plus, it was becoming clear that supply massively exceeded demand when it came to those pesky, hard-to-build apps.

At the Mobile World Congress 2017, chatbots were the main headliners. The
在2017年世界移动通信大会上,聊天机器人是主要的头条新闻。该conference organizers cited an '
组织者引用' overwhelming acceptance at the event of the inevitable shift of focus for brands and corporates to chatbots'. {#7ce8}

In fact, the only significant question around chatbots was
事实上,关于聊天机器人的唯一重要问题是 who would monopolize the field,
会垄断这个领域, not whether chatbots would take off in the first place :{#38d2}

"Will a single platform emerge to dominate the chatbot and personal assistant ecosystem?"

One year on, we have an answer to that question.{#16a4}

No. {#c216}

Because there isn't even an ecosystem for a platform to dominate.{#a9c3}

Chatbots weren't the first
weren't the first technological development to be talked up in grandiose terms and then slump spectacularly.{#aac7}

The age-old hype cycle unfolded in familiar fashion...{#ffa2}
古老的炒作周期以熟悉的方式展开...... {#ffa2}

Reverential TechCrunch
Reverential TechCruncharticles were written.
were written.

Prophetic thought leaders like
预言思想领袖喜欢Chris Messina chimed in.
chimed in.

Silicon Valley salivated at the prospect of talking to smart automation.

Messenger began to overflow with bots.

Slack went through exponential growth and even launched a fund for bot investment.

Expectations built, built, and then..... It all kind of fizzled out.{#6073}

The predicted paradim shift didn't materialize.{#dd7b}

And apps are, tellingly, still alive and well.{#f824}

We look back at our breathless optimism and turn to each other, slightly baffled:{#1bfb}

"is that it? THAT was the chatbot revolution we were promised?" {#2dfd}

Digit's Ethan Bloch
数字的Ethan Blochsums up the general consensus:{#7ff9}

"I'm not even sure if we can say 'chatbots are dead,' because I don't even know if they were ever alive."

According to Dave Feldman, Vice President of Product Design at Heap, chatbots didn't just take on one difficult problem and fail: they took on several and failed all of them.{#3485}
对于Heap产品设计副总裁Dave Feldman来说,聊天机器人并不只是承担了一个难题并且失败了:他们接下来几个并且都失败了。{#3485}

Bots can interface with users in different ways. The big divide is text vs. speech. In the beginning (of computer interfaces) was the (written) word.{#8707}

Users had to type commands manually into a machine to get anything done.{#5a19}

Then, graphical user interfaces (GUIs) came along and saved the day. We became entranced by windows, mouse clicks, icons. And hey, we eventually got color, too!{#e093}

Meanwhile, a bunch of research scientists were busily developing natural language (NL) interfaces to databases, instead of having to learn an arcane database query language.{#d961}

Another bunch of scientists were developing speech-processing software so that you could just speak to your computer, rather than having to type. This turned out to be a whole lot more difficult than anyone originally realised:{#4784}

... so many different accents, people speaking too fast or too slowly, mumbling, umming and aahing.

Did you say "recognise speech" or "wreck a nice beach"?

The next item on the agenda was holding a two-way dialog with a machine. Here's an example dialog (dating back to the 1990s) with VCR setup

User: "Hello."
User: "Hello."

Agent: "Hello, what's your name?"

User: "Candy."
User: "Candy."

Agent: "Hello, Candy!"

User: "Let's set the clock."

Agent: "What is the time?"

User: "The time is 11:00 AM."

Agent sets the clock to 11:00 AM.

Pretty cool, right? The system takes turns in collaborative way, and does a smart job of figuring out what the user wants.{#6701}

It was carefully crafted to deal with conversations involving VCRs, and could only operate within strict limitations.{#19aa}

Modern day bots, whether they use typed or spoken input, have to face all these challenges, but also work in an efficient and scalable way on a variety of platforms.{#5d83}

Basically, we're still trying to achieve the same innovations we were 30 years ago.{#fee7}

Here's where I think we're going wrong:{#899c}

An oversized assumption has been that apps are 'over', and would be
一个过大的假设是应用程序已经"结束",并且会是replaced by bots.{#03f7}
by bots.{#03f7}

By pitting two such disparate concepts against one another (instead of seeing them as separate entities designed to serve different purposes) we discouraged bot development.{#e8f9}

You might remember a similar war cry when apps first came onto the scene ten years ago: but do you remember when apps replaced the internet?{#e900}

It's said that a new product or service needs to be two of the following:
据说新产品或服务必须是以下两项: better ,
, cheaper , or
, or faster . Are chatbots cheaper or faster than apps? No --- not yet, at least.{#bf4c}
。聊天机器人比应用程序更便宜或更快?不 - 至少还没有。{#bf4c}

Whether they're 'better' is subjective, but I think it's fair to say that today's best bot isn't comparable to today's best app.{#cf4f}

Plus, nobody thinks that using Lyft is too complicated, or that it's too hard to order food or buy a dress on an app. What
另外,没有人认为使用Lyft过于复杂,或者在应用程序上订购食物或购买衣服太难了。什么 is too complicated is trying to complete these tasks with a bot --- and having the bot fail.{#0ec9}
太复杂了,试图用机器人完成这些任务 - 并让机器人失败。{#0ec9}Image result for chatbot fails

A great bot can be about as useful as an average app. When it comes to rich, sophisticated, multi-layered apps, there's no competition.{#356d}

That's because machines let us access vast and complex information systems, and the early graphical information systems were a
那是因为机器让我们访问庞大而复杂的信息系统,早期的图形信息系统就是一个revolutionary leap forward in helping us locate those systems.{#8f18}

Modern-day apps benefit from decades of research and experimentation. Why would we throw this away?{#684c}

But, if we swap the word 'replace' with 'extend', things get much more interesting.{#b755}

Today's most successful bot experiences take a hybrid approach, incorporating chat into a broader strategy that encompasses more traditional elements.{#e8c2}
今天最成功的机器人体验采用混合方法,将聊天融入更广泛的战略,包含更多传统元素。{#e8c2} https://www.pennyapp.io

  • Penny provides chatty advice and alerts alongside a traditional account dashboard and transaction list. {#6600} {#6600}
  • HubSpot Conversations unifies Facebook Messenger, onsite chat, social media, email and other messaging outlets into one shared inbox. {#6a54} {#6a54}
  • Layer gives developers the tools to create personalized messaging experiences on mobile web and desktop web as well as native apps. {#3f07} {#3f07}

The next wave will be
下一波将是multimodal apps, where you can say what you want (like with Siri) and get back information as a map, text, or even a spoken response.{#0da3}

Does my product need a bot? Are existing platforms able to support its functionality? Do I have the patience to build a bot that's capable of doing what I want it to?

Another problematic aspect of the sweeping nature of hype is that it tends to bypass essential questions like these.{#ae76}

For plenty of companies, bots just aren't the right solution. The past two years are littered with cases of bots being blindly applied to problems where they aren't needed.{#6814}

Building a bot for the sake of it, letting it loose and hoping for the best will never end well:{#4c43}
为了它而建立一个机器人,让它松散并希望最好的将永远不会结束:{#4c43} The totally necessary Maroon 5 chatbot in action
完全必要的Maroon 5聊天机器人在行动

The vast majority of bots are built using decision-tree logic, where the bot's canned response relies on spotting specific keywords in the user input.{#29db}

The advantage of this approach is that it's pretty easy to list all the cases that they are designed to cover. And that's precisely their disadvantage, too.{#8880}

T hat's because these bots are purely a reflection of the capability , fastidiousness and patience of the person who created them; and how many user needs and inputs they were able to anticipate.{#9b90}

Problems arise when life refuses to fit into those boxes.{#f2cc}

According to recent reports,
根据最近的报道,70%of the 100,000+ bots on Facebook Messenger are failing to fulfil simple user requests. This is partly a result of developers failing to narrow their bot down to one strong area of focus.{#0006}
Facebook Messenger上的100,000多个机器人无法满足简单的用户请求。部分原因是开发人员未能将他们的机器人缩小到一个强大的关注领域。{#0006}

When we were building
当我们建造时GrowthBot, we decided to make it specific to sales and marketers: not an 'all-rounder', despite the temptation to get overexcited about potential capabilties.{#a211}

Remember: a bot that does ONE thing well is infinitely more helpful than a bot that does multiple things poorly.{#552c}
请记住:做一件事情的机器人比做多件事的机器人更有帮助。{#552c}Image result for chatbot fails

A competent developer can build a basic bot in minutes --- but one that can hold a conversation? That's another story. Despite the constant hype around AI, we're still a long way from achieving anything remotely human-like.{#1644}
一个称职的开发人员可以在几分钟内建立一个基本的机器人 - 但是能够进行对话的人?那是另一个故事。尽管人工智能不断炒作,但我们距离实现类似人类的任何东西还有很长的路要走。{#1644}

In an ideal world, the technology known as NLP (natural language processing) should allow a chatbot to understand the messages it receives. But NLP is only just emerging from research labs and is very much in its infancy.{#077b}

Some platforms provide a bit of NLP, but even the best is at toddler-level capacity (for example, think about Siri understanding your words, but not their meaning.){#0b9e}

As Matt Asay outlines, this results in another issue: failure to capture the attention and creativity of developers.{#ebb6}

"Consumer interest was never going to materialize until machine intelligence could get anywhere near human intelligence.

User interest depends upon AI that makes talking with a bot worthwhile for consumers."

And conversations are complex. They're not linear. Topics spin around each other, take random turns, restart or abruptly finish.{#0eb9}

Today's rule-based dialogue systems are too brittle to deal with this kind of unpredictability, and statistical approaches using machine learning are just as limited. The level of AI required for human-like conversation just isn't available yet.{#2847}

And in the meantime, there are few high-quality examples of trailblazing bots to lead the way. As
与此同时,很少有高质量的开拓性机器人能够引领潮流。如Dave Feldman remarked:{#9c3d}

"Should Slack, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Kik, and others have built their own built-in bots to lead the way?

Should they have gotten more proactive with their bot funds and incubators, hiring mentors to educate participants in the Way of the Bot, or supplying engineering and design resources? Funded Strategic Bot Initiatives at high-profile partners?

In my opinion yes, yes, and yes. When it comes to platforms, developers are the users; and we don't rely on our users to understand why or how to use our products. We have to show them."

Once upon a time, the only way to interact with computers was by typing arcane commands to the terminal. Visual interfaces using windows, icons or a mouse were a revolution in how we manipulate information{#6b3c}

There's a reasons computing moved from text-based to graphical user interfaces (GUIs). On the input side, it's easier and faster to click than it is to type.{#0282}

Tapping or selecting is obviously preferable to typing out a whole sentence, even with predictive (often error-prone ) text. On the output side, the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words is usually true.{#6e85}

We love optical
of information because we are highly visual creatures. It's no accident that kids love
高度视觉的生物。孩子们喜欢这不是偶然的touch screens. The pioneers who dreamt up graphical interface were inspired by
。梦想图形界面的先驱者受到了启发cognitive psychology, the study of how the brain deals with communication.{#f834}

Conversational UIs are meant to replicate the way humans prefer to communicate, but they end up requiring extra cognitive effort. Essentially, we're swapping something simple for a more-complex alternative.{#0d01}

Sure, there are some concepts that we can only express using language ("show me all the ways of getting to a museum that give me 2000 steps but don't take longer than 35 minutes"), but most tasks can be carried out more efficiently and intuitively with GUIs than with a conversational UI.{#08d0}
当然,我们只能用语言表达一些概念("告诉我去博物馆的所有方式,给我2000步但不超过35分钟"),但大多数任务可以进行更多使用GUI高效直观地使用会话用户界面。{#08d0}Image result for chatbots

Aiming for a human dimension in business interactions makes sense.{#f130}

If there's one thing that's broken about
如果有一件事情被打破了sales and
and marketing, it's the lack of humanity: brands hide behind
,缺乏人性:品牌躲在后面 ticket numbers ,
, feedback forms ,
, do-not-reply-emails ,
, automated responses and
and gated 'contact us' forms .{#c573}

Facebook's goal is that their bots should pass the so-called Turing Test, meaning you can't tell whether you are talking to a bot or a human. But a bot isn't the same as a human. It never will be.{#f0ba}

A conversation encompasses so much more than just text.{#2d80}

Humans can read between the lines, leverage contextual information and understand double layers like sarcasm. Bots quickly forget what they're talking about, meaning it's a bit like conversing with someone who has little or no short-term memory.{#63da}

As HubSpot team
As HubSpot team pinpointed:{#bec8}

Bots provide a scalable way to interact one-on-one with buyers. Yet, they fail when they don't deliver an experience as efficient and delightful as the complex, multi-layered conversations people are accustomed to having with other humans on messaging apps.

People aren't easily fooled, and pretending a bot is a human is guaranteed to diminish returns (not to mention the fact that you're lying to your users).{#ec6e}

And even those rare bots that are powered by state-of-the-art NLP, and excel at processing and producing content, will fall short in comparison.{#5ea0}

And here's the other thing. Conversational UIs are built to replicate the way humans prefer to communicate --- with
而这是另一回事。构建会话UI是为了复制人们喜欢的交流方式 other humans .{#ba9b}

But is that how humans prefer to interact with machines?{#5f5d}

Not necessarily.{#9f21}

At the end of the day, no amount of witty quips or human-like mannerisms will save a bot from conversational failure.{#2f44}

In a way, those early-adopters weren't entirely wrong.{#3671}

People are yelling at Google Home to play their favorite song, ordering pizza from the Domino's bot and getting makeup tips from Sephora. But in terms of consumer response and developer involvement, chatbots haven't lived up to the hype generated circa 2015/16.{#e26a}
在Google Home上大喊大叫,播放他们最喜欢的歌曲,从Domino的机器人那里订购披萨,并从丝芙兰获得化妆技巧。但就消费者反应和开发人员参与而言,聊天机器人还没有辜负2015/16左右的大肆宣传。{#e26a}

Not even close.{#24ee}

Computers are good at being computers. Searching for data, crunching numbers,
在做计算机。搜索数据,处理数字,analyzing opinions and condensing that information.{#8a87}

Computers aren't good at understanding human emotion. The state of NLP means they still don't 'get' what we're asking them, never mind how we feel.{#b213}
了解人类情感。 NLP的状态意味着他们仍然没有"得到"我们所要求的东西,更不用说我们的感受。{#b213}

That's why it's still impossible to imagine effective customer support, sales or marketing without the
这就是为什么现在仍然无法想象有效的客户支持,销售或市场营销essential human touch: empathy and emotional intelligence.{#58b6}

For now, bots can continue to help us with automated, repetitive, low-level tasks and queries; as cogs in a larger, more complex system. And we did them, and ourselves, a disservice by expecting so much, so soon.{#74f0}

But that's not the whole story.{#a3cf}

Yes, our industry massively overestimated the initial impact chatbots would have. Emphasis on
是的,我们的行业大大高估了聊天机器人的初步影响。重点 initial .{#408d}

As Bill Gates once said:{#4f32}

We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction.

The hype is over. And that's a good thing. Now, we can start examining the middle-grounded grey area, instead of the hyper-inflated, frantic black and white zone.{#c47e}

I believe we're at the very beginning of
我相信我们刚刚开始explosive growth. This sense of anti-climax is completely normal for
。这种反高潮的感觉是完全正常的transformational technology.{#df6c}

Messaging will continue to gain traction.
将继续获得牵引力。Chatbots aren't going away. NLP and AI are becoming more sophisticated every day.{#8a1c}
不会消失。 NLP和AI每天都变得越来越复杂。{#8a1c}

Developers, apps and platforms will continue to experiment with, and heavily invest in,
开发人员,应用程序和平台将继续尝试并大力投资,conversational marketing.{#2484}

And I can't wait to see what
我迫不及待地想看看是什么happens next.{#d4e0}