An Introduction to and Overview of AI-Driven Chatbots

Artificial intelligence has made enormous progress in the last five years, and after a decade of texting and messaging on smartphones, people have become comfortable with conversational interfaces. Put together, those two trends mean we’ll soon be chatting with conversational bots: intelligent software designed to make you feel as though you’re talking to a real person. Chatbots are able to automate human tasks by translating fluidly between unstructured language and structured data. Imagine a customer service chat via instant message, email, or voice where the bot has answers before you can ask the question.

In this report, authors Jon Bruner and Mike Barlow examine the promise of chatbots, as well as the challenges they face. Driven by recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots have a bright future in customer relations, healthcare, games and entertainment, and worker productivity (picture a bot as your personal assistant). Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently declared that, "bots are the new apps."

Browse this report and explore today’s emerging chatbot landscape, including:

  • Why chatbots now?—Understand the factors behind the rise of bots, some of their use cases, and questions still to be answered.
  • Messaging platforms/frameworks for bots—Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Facebook Messenger, Google Now and Google Assistant, Microsoft Bot Framework, and more
  • AI Platforms and Frameworks for bots—Api.ai, Google TensorFlow, IBM Watson Conversation, Wit.ai, and scikit-learn
  • Real-world examples—Burger King, Fidelity Investments, Amtrak, Cobalt (CRM), Troops, and more

John Barlow

John Barlow currently is Technical Lead at Herff Jones focusing on Coldfusion/Java RIA applications utilizing dynamic HTML and Google Earth. John got his start learning Object Oriented programming with C++ along with focusing on the underpinnings of computer hardware. In his first foray into the real world, he supported High Speed camera equipment with all aspects of the term "support" — from basic troubleshooting to board level repair. Along with soldering, John also wrote custom control interfaces utilizing C++, Java, Win32, and Network Programming.

From this platform, John moved into writing web applications all the while keeping to his roots as an application developer. With this in mind, John strives to make the web behave more like the application world most people are used to — enter RIA.

John is an open source advocate, an avid photographer, and musician. Other interests include video encoding and streaming, compression technologies, clustering, and gaming.

Jon Bruner

Jon Bruner is a data journalist who approaches questions that interest him by writing and coding. Before coming to O'Reilly, where he is editor-at-large, he was data editor at Forbes Magazine. He lives in New York, where he can occasionally be found at the console of a pipe organ.