Last week, the social media giant announced big plans to enable businesses to conduct customer service through automatic messaging: “chatbots” that could carry on simple conversations, take orders or make appointments on Facebook’s Messenger app.
Tech writers took a look at the first generation of Facebots–and let’s just say the next generation couldn’t get here soon enough for their tastes.
Samuel Gibbs, The Guardian
User intrigue over what a chatbot can actually do quickly turned into loathing, once they began being spammed through a channel hitherto restricted to personal messages from people they care about…The trouble begins when you realise you don’t know how do you stop the messages.
Nick Statt, The Verge
There’s just one problem: the bots are slow… painfully slow. In fact, Poncho the ‘weathercat,’ which Facebook messaging chief David Marcus demoed onstage at the company’s F8 developer conference today, comes with a disclaimer that it ‘typically replies within an hour.’ That’s neat, if you’re the kind of person who can spend an hour waiting to know whether it’s going to rain.
Darren Orf, Gizmodo
I realized that using these robo-assistants is like trying to talk politics with a toddler. The problem is that most Messenger chatbots are dull conversationalists, so most of my chats sound unnatural, punctuated by moments of frustrating silence. I spent more time trying to guess what these little bots wanted to hear then actually talking to them.
Sarah Perez, TechCrunch
Here’s a simple problem a chatbot could help me solve, I thought: I’m in the market for a new shirt. I like the color black and I don’t want to spend a lot. Couldn’t Spring’s new shopping bot help point me to some nice items?…
After I narrowed it down to tops under $75, Spring returned five items it thought I would like.
Why would I like these particular items? I don’t know. Spring knows nothing about my shopping history, what style of shirt I’m looking for, the color, the occasion (work or casual) or anything else.
It returned three white shirts, one t-shirt, and a sweater.
Sean Hollister, CNET
The problem is that Facebook’s bots…are masquerading as something they are not. None of Facebook’s current bots are artificially intelligent. They just have a small number of preprogrammed responses….I can’t really blame Poncho or CNN for being such crappy bots. It’s not their fault that they don’t actually have artificial intelligence behind the wheel.
Also, I really don’t want to alienate our future robot overlords when they inevitably read this story.