On the F8 in April 2016, Marc Zuckerberg launched the platform is bots on Messenger. The effect was amazing, in November 2016 there were already 34 000 chatbots and now probably more then 60 000.

For Zuckerberg TenCent’s WeChat was the model. Although WeChat began life as an instant-messaging client, it rapidly evolved into a major platform for e-commerce and transactions in China. But it in stead of Facebook, WeChat largely keeps any AI guesswork away from real users (source: Facebook scales back AI flagship after chatbots hit 70% f-AI-lure rate).

And there the challenges appeared the AI powered chatbots are not working so well and it seems that the best chatbots have a 70% failure rate. So Facebook has scaled back its ambitions and refocused its application of artificial intelligence.

poncho
Poncho is an example of nice working bot in Messenger

What went wrong?
The idea was great in theory. Essentially, a chatbot would be able replace human interaction, with bots replying to customer service queries in conversation with users online. However, with chatbots failing to correctly respond to the majority of queries, it soon became clear that the technology was not yet sophisticated enough to have anything resembling a genuine conversation.

With Facebook’s bot API, Zuckerberg had joined a chatbot arms race with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. For Nadella, chatbots were Conversations as a Platform, or even the third run-time – as important to humanity as the operating system or the web browser.

Bots are the new apps, Nadella told Microsoft’s annual Build developer conference this week, giving the wannabe platform pride of place. We’re told that conversational bots will marry the power of natural human language with advanced machine intelligence. There’s a Bot Framework for developers. Ambitiously, he wants corner shops to develop their own bots.

People-to-people conversations, people-to-digital assistants, people-to-bots and even digital assistants-to-bots. That’s the world you’re going to get to see in the years to come (source: Is Microsoft’s chatty bot platform just Clippy Mark 2?)

Analyst Richard Windsor describes Facebook as the laggard in AI, failing to match the results Google. The problems that it has had with fake news, idiotic bots and Facebook M, all support my view that when Facebook tries to automate its systems, things always go wrong. The problem is not that Facebook does not have the right people but simply that it has not been working on artificial intelligence for nearly long enough” he wrote recently (source: Facebook scales back AI flagship after chatbots hit 70% f-AI-lure rate).

How has Facebook responded?

Instead of continuing its large-scale development of chatbot technology, Facebook will instead focus on getting its system to answer a limited set of questions correctly. It recently announced a selection of new developer features, including a persistent menu function, which will display all of the bot’s functions up-front and in a menu-format.

This basically means that the user experience will become akin to browsing on a website – merely clicking on a series of options – instead of taking the form of a two-way conversation. Of course, though this will mean that users won’t be frustrated by a chatbot’s inability to respond correctly – it could lead to disappointment in the technology as a whole (source: Facebook scales back on chatbots: What does it mean for brands?).

It is sad, because we will go back to our lovely Interactive voice response dial menu’s when you call a bank but then for in your chat app

Unfortunately there was no good news during the F8 in april 2017. The bot menu is the solution. Read more about it in Facebook’s F8 2017 & chatbots.

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