Facebook messenger bots can be set up and working within an hour. It is no wonder then that text-to-text chatbots have replaced the automated customer service answer machines in many sectors of industry.
The chatbot can be programmed with a training corpus of customer service complaints in the form of recognisable input data, and possible solution phrases. The algorithms then use key word identification to identify the issue and match it with a suitable response. Given the many experiences of miscommunication with lackadaisical customer service telephone operators, I feel this is a perfect use of chatbot technology.
I have been experimenting with building a bespoke chatbot for my own research purposes, so I can confirm that the practice is comparatively complex compared to the theory of providing an interactional partner for learners of English as a second language. Using the model and frameworks of customer-service chatbots was not possible to modify in my case. I tried using the Dialogue Flow framework provided by Google, which surprisingly provided rather disappointing results.
I feel the fear of a digital world where machines take over from humans is somewhat premature, as there is still a lot of development needed in order to iron out the creases of chatbot technology.