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Moving Beyond the Siri Syndrome

Our ultimate test of chatbot intelligence has become a simple, if not nonsensical, question. This „Siri Syndrome“ drives our expectations for virtual assistant experiences – but it doesn’t have to.

How many times have been on the phone to make an appointment or book a reservation, and midway through the conversation asked the person on the other end of the line, „what is zero divided by zero?“ I’m guessing probably never.

Yet time and again, we test and judge the intelligence of a chatbot by asking a series of unrelated questions – often at random times. We’ve all asked our devices an inane question out of the blue – like „who let the dogs out?“ „when will pigs fly?“ Or even made the statement „I see a little silhouetto of a man“ just to hear what it will say (and if you haven’t, you totally should).

We do this because it is not only a source of entertainment (see above), but somewhere deep down we are curious to know if a super knowledgeable and sensitive virtual assistant fueled by AI exists that can enrich or replace a lot of processes served by humans today. My colleague, Hristo Borisov – creator of Progress NativeChat – has coined this the „Siri Syndrome.“ It’s our constant drive for true artificial intelligence and it represents our eagerness to check „are we there yet?“ Have we reached that moment in time where computers are trained to think and act as humans?

And we have. Sort of.

The short answer is, the technology exists to create the kinds of AI-powered interactions we once only imagined. However, the real question we should be asking ourselves is how best to use the technology. Once we get beyond the entertainment value of asking our virtual assistants to tell us a joke or if we look good today (again, if you haven’t you might want to try – the responses are often amusing) we can start to understand the best way to employ the bots to ensure the best return on our technology investment.

Now that this technology is here, the very first question we need to ask ourselves is whether we’re developing the right kind of chatbots and virtual assistants. You can answer this question by understanding not only your goal (what you want the bot to accomplish for you) but also the subtle differences between the two distinct kinds of bots – transactional and knowledge.

In the full article read more about:

  • Transactional versus Knowledge Chatbots
  • Transactional Chatbots – Simple, Not Stupid
  • How to Choose (when to decide between these two)
  • Ask your Virtual Assistant to Tell you a Joke


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