Today, at Build 2016, Microsoft revealed a new AI tool for developers called the Bot Framework. The Bot Framework allows developers to write software bots that interact with people (and other bots). Essentially this makes it easy to create a Conversational User Interface (CUI), ushering in a new era that makes us think more about what a user interface should be.
Beyond a visual interface, User Experience (UX) will take on new meaning. The bot will need to lead the user through a series of steps that make sense, yet be able to adjust so as not to be too rigid and lead them down a path that might not make sense for the situation. Because Bots, written with the Bot Framework, can use Cognitive Services (another new AI product) and other intelligent services, the UX has potential to be even more appealing.
Intelligence is also a two-way sword where checks-and-balances must be maintained to avoid problems. The recent difficulties, as told by the Washington Post and other news media, concerning Microsoft’s @TayAndYou Twitter account highlight what can go wrong with an unconstrained bot. There has been plenty of discussion about how and why this happened, but it does indicate a need for more vigilance by developers. For this, we need something like botiquette:
- The customary code of polite behavior among bots and humans - often in social media, but also in apps, the enterprise, or any device where bot to bot and bot to human communication occur.
Neither Bing nor Google revealed a definition of botiquette. I searched Wikipedia too and the closest I came were the Laws of Robotics. The Laws of Robotics, by Asimov et.al., are a valid discussion, but focus on preventing distopian futures. Botiquette, I believe, is a more subtle cultural need for pleasant bot to human experiences.
Do you know of or think there is a better definition for Botiquette?
Bot technology has been around, but is still in it’s early stages. It’s interesting to hear Microsoft and others start the CUI discussion and will be fun to see where it leads.