Are Chatbots Actually Automating People?

Automation is pretty cool. It simply refers to a wide range of technologies that reduce human intervention in processes, especially those that are time-consuming and repetitive. But bots are sometimes perceived as a threat to humans. So, are they really stealing people's jobs or merely automating tedious tasks?

 

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What Does Automation Really Mean?

Automation is pretty cool. This buzzword simply refers to a wide range of technologies that reduce human intervention in processes, especially those that are time-consuming and repetitive.

That’s why we say it is cool. It shields us from the mundanity of low-value, repetitive tasks and gives us back a lot of time and resources we could better spend on more fun or productive things (or perhaps just things that we haven’t figured out how to automate yet).

Are Bots Really Stealing People’s Jobs?

Because of the allure of automation, bots are sometimes perceived as a threat to humans, particularly their employment. Actually, 37% of employees worry about losing their jobs to automation tools.1

But how much of these concerns are actually true? Although some studies say up to 30% of the jobs could be impacted by automation, only 10% of them seem to be at high-risk of computerization.

Saving time? Saving money? Objectively, any business should strive towards that. Performing business tasks at a fraction of the cost in less time, that’s practically the definition of efficiency. However, as much as the idea of bots replacing humans in the workforce might be frightening, it doesn’t seem to be completely true.

On one side, what figures show is more of a shift in how we do our jobs. AI and automation tools will work in collaboration with humans, not instead of them. On the other side, the creation of these automation platforms and machines will create a considerable amount of jobs. Hence, we are not facing destruction of workplaces, but a complete redesign of them.

Chatbots: Simulating Human-Like Conversations

One of the main areas of focus in AI and automation has been teaching machines to understand human language. Chatbots are no other than software tools that aim at automatically interacting with users through vocal or text messages.

In customer service, this has brought huge advantages. If you are somewhat shy, you might find yourself enjoying self-service platforms rather than the typical customer-human agent interactions. In fact, according to statistics, 75% of users deem self-service knowledge solutions as convenient to deal with the issues they face during purchases or others. 91% of them said they’d use tailored or intelligent knowledge bases if available.2

 

chatbot automating people

Do We Want Chatbots to Appear Human?

We like to make chatbots appear as human as possible – culturally appropriate names, carefully constructed avatars, colloquial vocabularies, jazzed-up dialogs to make users feel like a real conversation is taking place – but bots are not human. Nor are they autonomous. Have you ever seen Blade Runner? Consider it a blessing and a curse.

Forget about free will, and consider this: bots lack real intellect – they know what we teach them, which we must spoon-feed them in inevitably limited doses. In fact, because of this, many bots in today’s market aren’t that cost-cutting at all.

Machine learning, which is how most bots are programmed nowadays, remains to date somewhat unpredictable. It poses dangers when data is imperfect, messy, or biased. Algorithms might simply focus on specific data and reinforce unintentional implicit biases, and of course, can’t cover everything. A chatbot built with machine learning might not be unable to reply to an extremely simple question because it simply hasn’t been trained to tell the answer.

Why Machine Learning Is Not Always Efficient

Chatbots are a very good example of this. Most of them rely solely on machine learning, and require large amounts of utterances and training datasets to be remotely efficient. The high initial investment doesn’t even pay off, because while you still need to train the bot as time goes on, with the passage of time comes the depletion of utterances that your bot can learn -or deviate- from.

Inbenta offers a chatbot that works a little differently, offering 90% accuracy from day 1 with no training or utterances required for launch. Our technology leverages Natural Language Processing for more conversational exchanges with users. Our goal is not to make chatbots that are better at being human, but better at being intelligent bots.

You might be wondering ‘what does that mean’? Well, it means there are certain tasks that require human skills a bot cannot be programmed to solve, and we don’t intend to. This is the real reason bots won’t steal our jobs, but instead will change them.

 

The Future of Work: the Unparalleled Value of Humans

Our ability to act with both logic and empathy is a feat unsurpassed by bots. Our creativity bleeds through our work in ways that are both subtle and undeniable. We are able to relate to each other because we are each other.

We bear the joys and brunt of culture, language, relationships, ethics, and responsibility. Our brains can identify and make connections between things that would take bots years to learn, if at all. We learn on our own, we don’t require supervision, extensive training, or debugging. We can be held accountable for our actions, and know not to run off on discriminatory Twitter tirades3. These are all qualities we need in the workforce to be able to work with and for each other, accomplish great things, and do it all in the most efficient way possible.

We might not be working 24/7, but those 8 hours a day, five days a week that we are make up for it, and then some.

Bots are sophisticated tools – we build, use, and optimize them that way. Cars didn’t teach themselves how to drive, just like chatbots didn’t teach themselves how to… chat. Behind every bot is a team working diligently and constantly to make it useful and convincing, and there’s still a lot of work to be done to make this variety of “automation” happen.

If you want to discover how to make automation empower and increase your employees’ productivity, we are here.

 

 

Sources

1‘Will robots steal our jobs?’ PwC UK Economic Outlook

2‘How Based is Your Knowledge?’ Business2Community

3 ‘Racist, Sexist AI Could Be A Bigger Problem Than Lost Jobs’. Forbes

 

 

 

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