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Developing AI-powered Chatbot for Perceived Humanness

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) and natural language processing advance, people often do not know if they are talking to a person or an AI-powered chatbot. What matters more than who or what is on the other side of the chat is the perceived humanness of the interaction.

With text-based bots becoming ubiquitous and AI-powered voice systems emerging, consumers of everything from shoes to insurance may find themselves talking to non-humans. Companies will have to decide when bots are appropriate and effective and when they are not. Researchers then developed a measurement for perceived humanness.

In the study, participants chatted with bots or human agents from companies and rated them on humanness. Sixty-three of 172 participants could not identify whether they were interacting with a human or a machine. But whether the interaction featured AI or not, higher scores of perceived humanness led to greater consumer trust in the companies.

If people felt like if it was human—either with really good AI or with a real person—then they felt like the organisation was investing in the relationship. People think that the company is trying to create good interaction and the company put some time or resources into this, and therefore they trust the organisation.

– Tom Kelleher, Ph.D., Advertising Professor, College of Journalism and Communications, University of Florida 

Researchers started studying how language affects customer trust more than a decade ago when blogging culture introduced a conversational approach to the stuffy, stilted language businesses tended to bludgeon their customers with.

Companies noticed that as jargon waned, consumer trust, satisfaction and commitment grew. The new study shows that the same holds true with chatbots and other online interactions, and can be applied to bots and humans alike.

As AI-powered interfaces blossom, even expanding to include animated avatars that look human, ethical issues will follow. Should companies disclose when customers are interacting with a non-human agent? What if the helper is a hybrid: A person assisted by AI? Are there areas where consumers will not accept bots, such as health care, or situations where they might prefer a non-human?

“If I’m just trying to get an insurance quote, I would almost rather put something into an app than have to make small talk about the weather. But later on, if my house floods, I’m going to want to talk to a real person. As the metaverse evolves, understanding when to employ AI and when to employ real people will be an increasingly important business decision,” Kelleher said.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, a new report showed that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has reached a critical turning point in its evolution. Substantial advances in language processing, computer vision and pattern recognition mean that AI is touching people’s lives daily—from helping people to choose a movie to aid in medical diagnoses.

With that success, however, comes a renewed urgency to understand and mitigate the risks and downsides of AI-driven systems, such as algorithmic discrimination or the use of AI for deliberate deception. Computer scientists must work with experts in the social sciences and law to assure that the pitfalls of AI are minimised.

The report – Gathering Strength, Gathering Storms: The One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI100) 2021 Study Panel Report – aims to monitor the progress of AI and guide its future development. This new report, the second to be released by the AI100 project, assesses developments in AI between 2016 and 2021.

In terms of AI advances, the panel noted substantial progress across subfields of AI, including speech and language processing, computer vision and other areas. Much of this progress has been driven by advances in machine learning techniques, particularly deep learning systems, which have leapt in recent years from the academic setting to everyday applications.

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