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Five reasons your chatbot is going to suck | Mumbrella360 video

In his quest to work out how brands are supposed to navigate the new world of chatbot-mania, XXVI’s Hamish Cargill breaks down some of the world’s greatest chatbot failures as well as the rare successes in this video from Mumbrella360.

In the following video from June’s Mumbrella360 conference, XXVI’s Hamish Cargill breaks down exactly what can be achieved via a chatbot… and why your bot probably sucks. One of the most important things to remember, he says, is that “the greatest chatbot ideas can be found in failure.”

One of the worst chatbot disasters of all time, says Cargill, took place in early 2016 with Microsoft’s Twitter-based AI bot, TayTweets. The bot was programmed to respond and learn from the Twitter users who interacted with it.

Eventually, the bot began to spout racist, misogynistic phrases and ideas. In the space of 16 hours, Microsoft pulled the bot.

“They did the usual things, they issued the apologies, they said ‘we’re very sorry, we’re appalled at what happened'”, says Cargill. “But you can’t take that back.”

He points out that although Tay wasn’t a technical failure, she was a failure for Microsoft nonetheless.

“Good bots go bad because they’re programmed by people. They’re not human, but certainly they’re programmed by humans. They’ll only know what we teach them. Our biases are their biases.”

“Of course, not every chat bot is a racist failure,” says Cargill, pointing to the time when Amazon’s Alexa began to randomly laugh for no apparent reason.

In another example, Alexa listened, recorded and sent conversations to contacts. “That’s what we all worry about. In some ways, technology is turning on us. It is far more involved in our lives than we ever would hope. Far more personally involved if that sort of stuff starts to creep out.”

This video is from a session at June’s Mumbrella360 conference. To see more videos from the conference, click here. 

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