Mark Zuckerberg opened the F8 conference with a keynote about how the camera is the first mainstream augmented reality (AR) platform. Besides of that Facebook Spaces is a new virtual reality (VR) app, Facebook announced a programm for developers all over the world to connect, learn, and collaborate with other local developers, called Developer Circles and the new Facebook analytics might be interested.
But we were waiting for Messenger, and more specific Chatbots in Messenger and all related technology and Artificial Intelligence.
David Marcus announced new features and advanced tools in Messenger, which include:
A new discover tab- This allows people to find the bot for Messenger they’re looking for in an intuitive and thoughtful way, right from the home screen in Messenger. Facebook has also enabled discovery in the physical world with new parametric Messenger codes. This gives people the option to scan Messenger Codes through the Messenger camera and link to brands and businesses.
Chat Extensions- This allows multiple people to chat with the same business at the same time. People can now add in a bot directly in a group thread and share the conversation and experience.
Order food through M- Messenger’s AI assistant, M, now offers the ability to order food through delivery.com. For instance, if one is chatting with friends about what to grab for dinner, M will suggest placing an order. Then the whole experience can be completed in Messenger, including group ordering and payment.
Smart Replies, which help Pages to respond to the most frequently asked questions that small businesses receive, such as business hours, directions and contact details.
Hand-over Protocol is a new way for businesses to work with multiple developers for different experiences on Messenger.
For me the most interesting keynotes were How to build a Great Bot and Natural Language Understanding @ Facebook.
Let’s start with How to build a Great Bot
As within ContentForces, we were heavily using wit.ai but we decided to build our own Natural Language Processing (NLP) platfom, as wit.ai was not able to make a conversation and sometimes crashes completely.
I was wondering what is the vision on the new approach of decision tree with buttons which most bots in messenger are using so they don’t NLP to understand the user.
But the alternative is the decision Tree, which is announced a bot menu. Sorry, I think this is the wrong direction, it is a website again in a slightly difference User eXperience. The long term future are bots that understand the user and give the right answers, not a click menu..
Very interested is the payment option. Hopefully Facebook will be able to roll it out outside of the US and integrates with local payments systems.
The AI related presentation is the Natural Language Understanding @ Facebook.
A very interesting presentation, as we have a similar approach within ContentForces. The most interesting slide was the way Facebook democratizes NLP with CLUE.
Facebook says 2016 was the year of learning, 2017 will be the year of scaling. Hopefully it will be true but if we go back to the F8 in april 2016, it looks like Facebook lost a little the attention for the chatbots (see also Facebook scales back on chatbots).
If you would like to get more information about ChatBots and/or Natural Language Processing please contact me via the contact form on ContentForces website (under in the page).