A chatbot, short for chatterbot, is an artificial intelligence (AI) application that generates dialogue by mimicking human language based interactions through voice commands, text commands, or both.
There are two common ways in which a chatbot can work: through set guidelines or machine learning (ML).
This type of chatbot can carry out a limited conversation as it must follow a narrow set of rules.
The chatbot can respond to a specific number of requests and know how to interpret a set amount of vocabulary. This type of bot is commonly used in automated banking systems. The bot would ask the user to select from a menu, and if the user were to stray away from the options provided, the bot would not understand and be unable to proceed.
Similar to the neural nodes found in a human brain, a machine learning chatbot uses an artificial neural network to understand user queries and accurately respond to them. As opposed to the ‘set guidelines’ bot, the machine learning bot learns on its own over time, as it is introduced to an increasing amount of new dialogues and words. The bot learns from experience. As long as it receives new dialogues, the number of inquiries it can respond to and the accuracy at which it answers them will continue to progress.
Overall, multiple industries are currently using chatbots designed to tend to a variety of different purposes: some chatbots can assist users in delivering groceries, others can provide weather forecasts, some can help users order an Uber ride, etc.