BENGALURU:Bots have arrived and in a big way and to all of you who will be taken unawares by this amazing piece of software, they will very soon shape the future of how people decide, access information and communicate. Today some of us know about chatbots as saying ‘Hello’ to Siri, Allo, Cortana and Alexa but there is much more to this new form of responsive technology which combines artificial intelligence and messaging platforms.
Aakrit Vaish, co-founder and CEO of Haptik, India’s only chat-based personal assistant app tells us more about chatbots before Bengaluru hosts India’s first Botathon - a Hackathon for chatbots in December.
We know that chatbots can be developed in Facebook, WhatsApp, text messages and other chat based apps. Can we have chatbots for apps which are not chat based?
Chat is a very natural interface for a mobile screen. You can take whatever bots to build and integrate them as a separate section in any other app, it could be a news app, a music app, a banking app or any other app can have a separate section where they can have chatbots doing several things. They can process customer service requirements, process transactions or tell someone something.
Haptik which is a conversational commerce platform, is powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and real humans. Are you taking help of robotics also?
AI has various subdivisions to it. Natural Language Processing (NLP), which is the area of human-computer interaction is what it is structured on. Whenever the machine fails to understand or answer something the real humans come in. It is still evolving and so is a hybrid of humans and machines. The two fields of robotics and chatbots are completely different. Robotics is literally creating artificial humans. It broadly falls under the overall hierarchy of AI, but chatbots and NLP, on which we are working on is different.
There are some who believe that chatbots may replace websites and apps because every business will use bots.
Think of it this way, this was said even when smartphone apps came, that websites would go away. But websites are still very much used and relied upon for things apps can’t do. Again there are things that can be done on apps that websites can’t do, like you can’t use snapchat on a website. WhatsApp was first built as a mobile app and can only now be used on the web. Similarly, whatever we see on the websites and apps, what can be built for bots will be built for bots. For a lot of these things, bots will become better than websites and apps and there will also be bot only type of usecases.
Do you think bots will be the easiest to use technology ever created?
It depends from case to case. For flight booking a bot will be the easiest, but for cab booking for which maps are so important, an app with a map would be better. But bots will be easier for a lot of other things you are trying to solve.
While we talk about pushing the boundaries of AI, what is the amount of Venture Capital (VC) funding that is going into it?
It is crazy. If you look globally millions of dollars are going in. It is the hottest sector right now where the majority of the money is going. Elon Musk has a company called ‘Open AI’ –it’s like a non-profit organisation that is trying to fund and create lots and lots of AI.
Is there a rarity of AI engineers in India?
There is no rarity as such, but rarity of people who really do it well. Cutting edge AI engineers is difficult to find. It’s probably the most intensive kind of job and a good AI engineer would be paid more than most other highest paying jobs.