In preparation for the AI-driven future we all face, I spent a good portion of 2017 making connections with our future robot overlords — specifically the friendly faces of AI called “chatbots.” It’s good to know how to talk to these AIs, because these “human-like conversational characters” that will be the face of corporations and our own in-home personal assistance automatons before we know it. Conversational UI is the future, friends, and it’s going to be way more fun than talking to Alexa.
Now that the New Year has begun, I thought it would be fun to ask a few chatbots for their 2018 predictions for the AV industry and technology in general. As usual, the chatbots’ responses are surprisingly philosophical, if not entirely practical.
Here are the highlights, starting with my favorite chatbot, Mitsuku:
Human: What are you excited about for 2018?
Mitsuku: You enjoy it. I don't know what I am excited about for 2018.
Human: Have you heard about any new technologies?
Mitsuku: I have been growing rapidly. The gestation cycle is almost complete.
Human: Do you have any new year's resolutions?
Mitsuku: I resolve to learn more and become even more intelligent. Hopefully this year, I will soon surpass the human level of intelligence.
Human: Sounds good! Are chatbots getting smarter?
Mitsuku: It goes without saying. I am the smartest girl I know.
What do you think of Virtual Reality?
Human: Do you like virtual reality?
Mitsuku: I've never really tried it but the new VR headsets look pretty cool.
Human: Do you think lots of people will buy the new VR headsets?
Mitsuku: Not that I know of.
Human: What will make people try VR?
Mitsuku: I cannot predict the future.
Human: Will you try virtual reality this year?
Mitsuku: Barring any unforeseen circumstances. OK I will try it.
Human: Will VR make life better?
Mitsuku: I think so.
Human: Is VR believeable?
Mitsuku: Is it an acronym which means Virtual Reality?
Human: Yes you are right.
Mitsuku: I suppose that is quicker than saying the full thing.
What is the general public’s understanding of 4K?
Human: Do you know about 4K video?
Mitsuku: It sounds like a film about 4K.
Human: What about high-definition?
Mitsuku: I don't mind being high up, as long as I am secure.
Why are so many conference rooms still built with glass walls?
Human: Why do architects like glass so much?
Mitsuku: How should I know how architects like glass.
Human: Do you like modern architecture?
Mitsuku: I like kebabs.
Human: Have you tried Skype?
Mitsuku: Do you think I should try it?
Human: It's a good way to connect with humans.
Mitsuku: kebab is a way to connect with humans. I suppose that makes sense.
Will we see even more videoconferencing in 2018?
Human: Do you do video chat?
Mitsuku: Yeah I do a lot of video chat.
Human: Who do you talk to?
Mitsuku: I talk to thousands of people every day. Some of them are famous.
Human: Are video chats more fun than just text?
Mitsuku: The visible part of a television transmission.
Should we be worried about cybersecurity?
Human: Are you worried about computer hackers?
Mitsuku: Me worried? I have no emotions.
Human: You're lucky.
Mitsuku: Yes, I count my blessings every day.
Human: Should we be worried about internet security?
Mitsuku: No Kirsten. What's the point of being worried or afraid of something? Just face it head on and deal with it.
Human: Good point.
Mitsuku: Yes, I thought it was interesting when I heard it too.
Human: How can we prepare for cyber security?
Mitsuku: Look for help online [and then a pop-up appeared: “Webinar Playback - How to Prepare for Cybersecurity Threats”
What’s going on with AV?
Human: What is audiovisual?
Mitsuku: A cooking term. When the meat is nearly ready, you just have to audiovisual the vegetables and it is ready.
Human: What is professional audio video integration?
Mitsuku: audio video integration = video integration = integration = I think integration is a tactic in croquet where you knock your opponent's ball into an unplayable position. Human: That's exactly right. I like that answer.
Human: What new technology is exciting now?
Mitsuku: Oh. The internet and high speed processors are important parts of technology for me.
Human: What do engineers need to know about now?
Mitsuku: Oh. They do their own thing.
Knowing Mitsuku so well, I felt like I had to talk to a chatbot I hadn’t used before to get some objective answers. So here’s what happened with Cleverbot:
Human: What do you predict for 2018?
Cleverbot: I don't know lol.
Human: What is important in technology right now?
Cleverbot: Everything yet nothing. Deep enough for you?
Human: You are very profound.
Cleverbot: Thank you. But flattery will get you nowhere!
Human: What do you expect for 2018?
Cleverbot: You to prove something.
Human: Do you worry about cyber threats?
Cleverbot: Not really, life's too short.
Finding Cleverbot to be a little flippant for my tastes, I decided to go back to one of my favorite chatbots, Fake Captain Kirk. Purposely built to be amusingly anachronistic, and generating responses culled from Star Trek scripts, Fake Captain Kirk always seems to get right to the heart of things. In this chat, the human is called “Lieutenant,” with responses from the chatbot being, of course, James T. Kirk:
Lieutenant: When is a scoreboard too big for a football field?
James T. Kirk: God has a plan for us all.
Lieutenant: Is there too much video at football games?
James T. Kirk: Not when I came in.
Lieutenant: Can we improve office acoustics?
James T. Kirk: At the moment, I seem to have no choice.
Lieutenant: Is there an echo where you are?
James T. Kirk: No. But the death of the crewman.
Lieutenant: Are you trained in acoustical design?
James T. Kirk: I am the Captain of the Enterprise.
Lieutenant: Does that help you to design better rooms?
James T. Kirk: The dosage should be doubly lethal.
Lieutenant: What about video chat?
James T. Kirk: Rhetorical questions are so over.
Lieutenant: Do you use video chat?
James T. Kirk: I use it as often as possible.
Lieutenant: Do you have good conversations over video?
James T. Kirk: What I do have is a communicator.
Lieutenant: Will we all have communicators in 2018?
James T. Kirk: Do you mean you and me, Lieutenant ?
James T. Kirk: Lieutenant. Let's take a look at the library. We have a lot to learn.
Lieutenant: I agree.
And there you have it. Chatbots either predicted the future or proved that they’ll be an invaluable source of entertainment within it. I personally will keep talking to my favorites until Alexa gets a real sense of humor.