Business Unusual

Soon you will neither know nor mind talking to a machine

Facebook’s recent F8 conference focused heavily on its Messenger app. It currently allows users to use a variety of bots to arrange or obtain information more easily.

Getting news, buying flowers, booking cabs or arranging air travel can now be done via a text message anytime of the day or night.

What is a bot?

It covers a wide range of applications but they can be summarised as programs that perform automated tasks, many without human interaction, but some as a point of interaction with human inputs.

Non-human tasks

Bots like the Wikipedia's ClueBot monitor updates to the site and reverses edits that are classified as vandalism. It can check and correct as many as 9000 edits a minute and learns over time to be increasingly accurate in what it identifies.

Search engines use web crawlers that read and index the content of websites.

Some Twitter accounts like the Boggle bot plays a new game every 6 hours and keeps scores even though there is no human involved. Another called Stealth Mountain corrects anyone who tweets “sneak peak” and replies with the correction to say it should be “sneak peek”

There are dozens more.

Human tasks

Google’s search engine uses a natural language process to try understand what is being asked rather than simply find matches for the words typed in the input box. For example if you ask “Who is the Batman?” it knows that you are talking about a fictional character but that you most likely looking to know who plays the role and returns the names of all the actors that have played the role.

If you ask “Do I need an umbrella tomorrow?” it will return a weather forecast for where you are with the next day highlighted even though you did not expressly ask for the weather or specify where you are.

Microsoft has a caption bot that will describe what it sees in a picture and other that will determine if there is a person in it and what their gender and age is.

The How-Old bot correctly identified Bruce Whitfield's age (at the time the picture was taken).

The KLM messenger bot tracks all the details with your flight, ticket details, seat selection, dietary needs and updates on the departure time all while you can still message friends and look at pictures of cats.

X.ai aims to makes setting up meetings easier when someone requests to meet, you simply cc amy@x.ai and “she” will follow up and check your calendar for free time and check which works best for the person that would like to meet you. It would be interesting if two people with the bot look to arrange a meeting with each other.

It is a useful service, but this is also where we realise that there is still some way to go. The bot has a human checking all their moves, it is quite reliable but not quite there yet.

This was a similar response for those using the Facebook bots, they are a little slow sometimes and often don’t understand.

So rather than taking jobs away in the short term the new job of botsitter will create work for humans in the short term and even when they do get good enough to not need a sitter they will be doing work that few humans would want or would be able to do for as long and as accurately as humans.

One of the most impressive demonstrations of just how good AI can be is illustrated with a project to try create a painting to match Rembrandt style that might impress the master himself.

This is not a flash in the pan and while the tipping point may be a year or two away, it will not be too long before people will not only lament that fact that we don’t talk to people face to face anymore, they will remember fondly when we interacted online with other humans.

702 welcomes all comments that are constructive, contribute to discussions in a meaningful manner and take stories forward.

However, we will NOT condone the following:

  • Racism (including offensive comments based on ethnicity and nationality)
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Religious intolerance
  • Cyber bullying
  • Hate speech
  • Derogatory language
  • Comments inciting violence.

We ask that your comments remain relevant to the articles they appear on and do not include general banter or conversation as this dilutes the effectiveness of the comments section.

We strive to make the 702 community a safe and welcoming space for all.

702 reserves the right to: 1) remove any comments that do not follow the above guidelines; and, 2) ban users who repeatedly infringe the rules.

Should you find any comments upsetting or offensive you can also flag them and we will assess it against our guidelines.

702 is constantly reviewing its comments policy in order to create an environment conducive to constructive conversations.

Read More
How the symbol for a good idea has outlived the product that inspired it

How the symbol for a good idea has outlived the product that inspired it

The history of General Electric is the history of electric lighting and after 125 years they may be selling it.

5 year-olds may never get a car licence

5 year-olds may never get a car licence

Cars might not only be autonomous by 2030, new drivers will probably not be allowed to drive.

The best way to listen to music is to hire it

The best way to listen to music is to hire it

The industry noted for being significantly disrupted by technology is getting its groove back.

Working from home or from the office, which is best?

Working from home or from the office, which is best?

We tend to have strong views on whether people should work in offices or remotely. This will help you decide.

Who should be allowed access to your encrypted data?

Who should be allowed access to your encrypted data?

There are growing calls for governments to be given access to people’s data. Is that fair?

Humans will be returning to the moon, but how will they be fed?

Humans will be returning to the moon, but how will they be fed?

The space race has typically focused on the massive rockets needed to get there, now we need to ensure there is enough to eat.

Popular articles
Meet self-made millionaire (net worth – R400m!) property mogul Sisa Ngebulana

Meet self-made millionaire (net worth – R400m!) property mogul Sisa Ngebulana

How did Ngebulana build his empire? The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviewed him for his weekly “ShapeShifter” feature.

6 ways the new UIF bill benefits workers

6 ways the new UIF bill benefits workers

The broadened bill will see those who lose their jobs receive money for a longer period when they apply for unemployment benefits.

It's not the end of the road... Top tips to improve your matric

It's not the end of the road... Top tips to improve your matric

"Recognise that it’s not the end, it’s the beginning." Expert advise for school-leavers who want to improve their results.

'I wanted lots of money!' - Andile Mazwai (National Stokvel Association of SA)

'I wanted lots of money!' - Andile Mazwai (National Stokvel Association of SA)

Bruce Whitfield interviews Stokvel Association CEO Andile Mazwai about his attitude to money (hopes, fears, successes, failures).

NSFAS to reopen 2017 applications

NSFAS to reopen 2017 applications

National Student Financial Aid Scheme says it will reopen 2017 loan applications after receiving requests for deadline extension.

Right now, these are the best shares to buy on the JSE (according to Adviceworx)

Right now, these are the best shares to buy on the JSE (according to Adviceworx)

Bruce Whitfield interviews a Portfolio Manager about what she believes are the hottest stocks right now.

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

WIN R2000! But only if you can prove you're a whiz of the MTN Biz Quiz by answering the following three questions...

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Is social trend Blesserfinder, where girls are allegedly matching up with rich 'benefactors' in exchange for sex, a real thing?