What are chatbots?

From Robots to Chatbots

We all know what a robot is…that mechanical, human-like device that we wish could do our homework or make our bed. But what are “chatbots?”

The concept of a robot has been around since Medieval times. In the ancient myths of the Greeks, the gods were said to have created talking mechanical handmaidens, clay golems and giants, and many other robotic-like structures. Jump forward to the 20th century and we see a major increase of automated machines in the “Industrial Revolution.”

History of Chatbots

Click to enlarge image

Chatbots of Yesteryear

Just like robots, chatbots are designed to eliminate a task that is too difficult or time-consuming for humans. The first chatbots most people interacted with were built to take the place of humans answering FAQs on websites.

But even as far back as 1981 chatbots have aimed for more. First created in an attempt to beat the Turing Test–a common bar for determining if an artificial intelligence can pass for human–Jabberwacky was and is a pioneering chatbot that attempts to mimic human conversation. It and similar chatbots, Jabberwock, A.L.I.C.E, and Cleverbot, have been pushing the envelope of machine mimicked conversation for decades.

Chatbots of Today

Simply put, a chatbot is a computer program—generally with a personality—that can automate a conversation through electronic mediums. These include text messaging and other common applications like – Slack, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, WeChat and others.

Chatbots are sprouting up everywhere, including:

  • An electronic travel agent that books Greyhound bus trips right through a phone call
  • A digital outdoors expert that answer questions about camping gear through a web chat window at Backcountry’s website
  • An all hours pharmacy assistant that places refill orders
  • An always on duty fitness coach that texts reminders, tips, and answers nutrition questions
  • An unflappable sales mentor that reinforces training, provides product quizzes, and motivational job performance leaderboards through Facebook Messenger

Chatbots of Tomorrow

Chatbots are sprouting up everywhere there’s a need for customer communication, and they don’t show any sign of slowing down. While chatbots are only as smart as their programming, that programming is growing in leaps and bounds. Today a chatbot takes your pizza order. Tomorrow it talks you through your taxes.

Advances in machine learning and conversation mimicking software promise to see chatbots become a ubiquitous fixture in the modern marketplace. Anywhere a human employee is now required for repetitive conversation is an opening for a near-infinitely scalable chatbot.

Mobile Coach is among those leading the chatbot charge. Over the past 5 years we’ve made great strides in developing a platform that makes creating and managing chatbots easier than ever. We’ve helped many companies create chatbots that scale corporate training across the globe, help users develop healthy lifestyle habits, and that help companies delight customers.

So with that, try out a chatbot yourself and see how they work! Meet Mobile Coach’s very own, Coach Sally click on the chat bar to the right and interact with Sally!

About the Author: Ashley Smoot

Ashley Smoot is the summer Marketing Intern for Mobile Coach. She is studying Digital Marketing at Utah Valley University and aspires to work for an airline, so that she can do what she loves- travel the world! She enjoys music, plays the violin, and has a lifetime goal of running the Boston Marathon. She comes from the small Utah city of Kaysville and though only here for the summer, has learned a great amount from her time here at Mobile Coach.