Chatbot: Baloney Sliced and Served as Steak

October 15, 2019

DarkCyber noted “The Truth about Chatbots: Five Myths Debunked.” Silver bullets are keenly desired. Use smart software to eliminate most of the costs of customer support. (Anyone remember the last time customer support was painless, helpful, and a joy?)

IT Pro Portal seems to be aware that smart software dispensing customer service is in need of a bit of reality-marketing mustard. My goodness. Interesting. What’s next? Straight talk about quantum computing?

The write up identifies five “myths.” Viewing these from some sylvan viewshed, the disabused “myths” are:

  1. You will need multiple bots. Now multiple bots increase the costs of eliminating most humans from customer support and other roles. Yep, expensive.
  2. Humans won’t go away. That means sick days, protests, healthcare, and other peculiarly human costs are here to stay. Shocker! Smart software is not as smart as the pitch decks assert?
  3. Bots can do a lot. View this “myth” in the context of item 1.
  4. Bots require a support staff. Of course not. Buy a bot service and everything is just peachy.
  5. Bots don’t mean lock in.

Now this dose of reality is a presentation of baloney and hand waving.

What is the truth about chatbots? Are they works in progress? Are they cost cutting mechanisms? Are they fairly narrow demonstrations of machine learning?

The reality is that bots, like customer service, are not yet as good as the marketers, PR professionals, and managers of firms selling bots assert.

Think about these five myths. It’s not one bot. It’s multiple bots. Bots can’t do human stuff as well as some humans. Bots do many things not so well. Rely on providers; you can trust vendors, right? Don’t worry about lock in even though the goal of bot providers is to slap on those handcuffs.

To get a glimpse of unadulterated rah rah cheerleading, check out “Robots Are Catching Up to Humans in the Jobs Race.” That write up states:

In real terms, the price for an industrial robot has fallen by more than 60% in 20 years. They also get better as they get cheaper.

What’s not to like? Better, faster, cheaper.

Stephen E Arnold, October 15, 2019


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