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Chatbots and Personal Assistants set to become top consumer applications

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Consensus on the future of chatbots

In a consensus released on the 20th of June 2016 by Tech Emergence, a range of AI founders and executives were asked what they believed the future of consumer technology would be in the next five years. 37% of the respondents believed that chatbots and virtual assistants would take off, rising above the likes of smart objects/environments (Items with their interactivity and networking functions) and physical embodiment (a further integration of robots and their interactions into everyday life). The primary reason for this is the steps large corporations such as Facebook and Google are taking to utilise the growing technology, incorporating it into their own services and allowing developers to run their own experiments.

According to the experts interviewed, this uptake of chatbots and artificial intelligence will result in numerous changes and updates in society…

  • Dennis R. Mortensen (Founder of

“I believe a lot of specialised agents that do one job extraordinarily well will emerge. And once this happens, you can easily imagine a marketplace of Vertical AIs – such as travel agents that buy your plane tickets and reserve hotel rooms or bookkeeper agents that reconcile your accounts. In this scenario Siri, Cortana, and Alexa become enablers.”

“Eventually they will able to summon these single minded Vertical AIs at will. When you ask Siri to schedule a meeting, she’ll simply ping Amy, who will work hard to get the meeting on your calendar. When you ask Amazon’s Alexa to book a trip to San Francisco, she’ll reach out to a specialised travel AI to do that.”

“I believe AI, and chatbots specifically, will begin to replace situations where consumers currently rely on antiquated tech like phone IVR (Interactive Voice Response) menus and data forms that cyclical or repetitive in nature.”

“Truly intelligent personal assistants with which you’ll be able to have a full conversation. They will get to know you, and your preferences; learning from you interactively.”

  • Mark Palatucci (Co-Founder of Anki)

“We’re starting to see an explosion of consumer AI applications. From personal assistants like Alexa (Echo) to entertainment robotics, AI is starting to pervade the home. I also think autonomous cars that integrate with personal transportation services like Lyft and Uber will happen within five years.”

“We are already seeing AI take off in the Virtual Assistant space. Online search, E-commerce and Online Shopping will continue to be an area of massive impact and growth as well.”

  • Mohamed Mushah (Vice President of Products: Maluuba)

“Intelligent assistants (Think Siri) will truly be our personal assistants answering any questions we may have and holding a natural human-like conversation. These assistants will also save consumers countless hours of waiting on hold to get an answer.”

“More generally we’ll see AI technologies become baked into most consumer products we purchase with the ability to sense the world around it and predict consumer behaviour and make intelligent suggestions accordingly.”

“Customer service will be handled by AI; less calls and more NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) answering questions that consumers have”

“AI and chat assistants will be increasingly intertwined in our lives. I see these platforms becoming personalised and proactive. We should realise that good AI will be able to predict what you need before you even ask for it. Hence, our interactions with AI will become habitual, just like how we press a button to catch an Uber.”

“New marketplaces and services will be built around messenger and AI will power those engines. Wouldn’t it be intriguing, even a little shocking to find that people 5 years from now will chat more with AI assistants than real people?”

“AI will be brought into everyday use via emergence of natural user interfaces. Intelligent personal agents will become integral part of use experience in many devices with cloud connected computing capability. Recent successes with devices like Amazon Echo shows how hands free voice operation brings new, delightful user experiences to masses.”

“One interesting application will be prosumer “assistive” software that can understand the user’s instructions and goals to accomplish complex, non-trivial tasks (including robotic/physical ones).”

“The personal assistant will continue to grow with a focus on developing truly useful cognitive functions as well as meaningful personalities. The focus will shift away from big data towards heuristics (Approaches to problem solving) which can make intuitive decisions using smaller data sets. This is necessary for true autonomy”.

  • Ciro Greco (Founder of TOOSO)

“It seems to me that artificial personal assistants are particularly hot in this moment. Given the complexity of the problem, the raising attention on this area will probably have the effect of improving the single fields involved in the construction of a functioning personal assistant (eg: NLP for linguistic abilities, inferential reasoning for complex problem solving and so on).”


On the other hand, there were also experts who were undecided on the future of AI and chatbots, believing that a substantial progression would need to take place first…

“I believe we’ll see improvements across the board in all areas of life. From things like Siri on your phone to self-driving car technology that will help to save lives. However, true AI breakthroughs won’t happen until someone demonstrates a problem being solved with strong AI.”

“Consumer AI will transform almost everything we do. Routine tasks like driving, food production, food preparation, cleaning, paying bills, construction and gardening will be augmented or replaced with AI.”

  • James Gupta (Founder of Synap)

“AI will bridge the gap between the creative intelligence of the human mind and the raw processing power of micro-processors, paving the way for a new generation of technology that will touch every area of our lives.”

“AI will shape consumers daily lives in ways people have always dreamed of. The most ripe applications for disruption by AI (aka Killer apps) will mainly centre around automotive and social robotics; the two will then link directly to the connected home for a bright future of Domestic Ambient Intelligence (DAmI).”

Amazon Echo

With so many effects of impacts of chatbots and artificial intelligences on the horizon, it will be interesting to see how the technology grows and develops in the years to come.

(All opinions sourced from Tech Emergence at

(All images labelled for reuse on Google Images)


About the author

Robert Cain

A soon-to-be-graduating journalism student from Bournemouth University in England. I'm on the lookout for graduate schemes, freelance work and master degrees.

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