IBM using AI to create customised, emphatic chatbots

Chatbots may have become ubiquitous in recent times, assisting businesses in everything from bill payments to customer services, but these automated algorithms still struggle to grasp the nuances of human language and context of conversations.

In order to improve user-experience, researchers at IBM India are using artificial intelligence (AI) to make chatbots more emphatic and personalised so that they can meet a client's specific needs and provide business value at a much higher scale.

According to an estimate, chatbots are predicted to tackle a massive 85 per cent of customer service interactions by 2020.

India is a key player in the chatbot market today where such services have been introduced by many banking and insurance companies, said Gargi B. Dasgupta, Director, IBM Research-India and CTO, IBM India/South Asia.

Banks and insurance providers, she explained, were the early adopters of chatbots in the country, helping customers for bill payments, mobile recharges, booking travel, so on and so forth.

However, when it comes to making people feel comfortable, AI has a lot to learn, Gargi noted.

A lot of available systems make building the first chatbot easy, but do not scale-up when you increase the scope of the chatbot or need to build several hundred more, she said.

This, she said, is because of two main factors: overt dependence on the manual effort for creating chatbots which makes them both time consuming and brittle, and lack of an end-to-end fall-back plan with continuous learning and improvement.