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Introduction

Browse through the pages of any industry magazine or blog and take a moment to count the number of times you happen across the words; virtual reality, artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), and social media, among other- it is becoming clearer that tech and humans are somewhat ‘entangled’ like never before. Of course, with social distancing and WFH protocols in place, this has never been more necessary.

So, with these exciting times and new experiences at our fingertips, what capabilities to we have to look forwards to when it comes to AI- chatbots and virtual assistant?

As tech becomes more intelligent, it also needs to become more human friendly- as we also move away from the ‘cold’ emotionless environment, previously offered by all things tech. Needless to say, technology is raising people’s expectations across the board and this is the ideal time to understand the potential, risks, and opportunities in Humanising Technology.

The Need to Humanise Technology

Modern society today has become so deeply immersed in technology that we often do not even realise how much it is affecting our daily lives, and how much it is changing our brains in a negative fashion as it takes over many of our cognitive functions. Just try forgetting your mobile phone somewhere for few hours, and you will come to realise how heavily dependent you have become on your device.

Ironically, however, is that technology changes faster than the human need it is supposed to serve. Interestingly, it is not that we want less from it.

Five Reasons Why Technology Needs to be More Human

The most essential aspect is how well technology can support our human cognitive capabilities and enhance how we do things naturally- it needs to be easy to use and understand, well-engineered, an optimised around people and their habits

  • Convenience:Consumers are affected by information overload.
  • Emotive:Technology is cold and flat, humans are not. They like to be vivid and varied.
  • Simplification:Technology is supposed to reduce the complexity of our daily lives, which ironically, is partly caused by technology itself.
  • Experience & Integration:Technology makes it possible to access personal, relevant content and act when and where we need to- think about your MS Teams and Zoom meetings- these virtual face-to-face sessions are chainging the way we understand the corporate world altogether.
  • Inclusion:The speed at which technology is advancing bears the risk of excluding less tech-savvy people from its benefits.

The Competitive Advantage

The conundrum which exists today in tech being that companies capture and use customers’ personal information but fail to show concern about the overall damage they cause by their individual actions.

Organisations have acted in favour of increasing market share, while eroding their customer’s level of trust in the process.

Designers are now introducing empathy, personality, and creativity to machine-human interaction in ways that affect user experience (Iyer, et al. 2018). The relationship a machine has with (and to) a user becomes a new competitive advantage.

How Tech and Emotions Go Hand-in-Hand

Emotional technology (or E.T.) is the new stage in our eternal search for artificial intelligence. This abstract definition becomes clearer with an example: Sensors in certain wearables can detect the level of excitement in a vehicle driver. When a driver becomes too excited in traffic, there is a risk of road rage, excessive speed or even accidents. When the sensor that we carry on us detects an increase in excitement, the playlist in the car will adapt in a way that a quieter song will help the driver relax, without making this obvious (Callewaert, 2016).

E.T. is based on 2 major pillars: detection and conversion, both of which have been developed to such an extent in the past few years that is has now become possible to combine them both in Emotional Technology (Callewaert, 2016):

  1. Detection: extracting biometric data has become a real hype in recent years. It has become possible for us, consumers, to monitor our own body and in this case our emotions, now more than ever and with the help of miscellaneous handy wearables. This ensures that a massive amount of data is becoming available for new applications.
  1. Conversion: connecting products to each other which until recently were innately asocialhas been facilitated by the arrival of IoT. Think about the radio in the above example; thanks to the hyper-connectivity of our digital world, the music is not only influenced by the device’s buttons, the input can also originate from various other sources (for instance, excitement sensor). That is how raw data can be translated into concretely observable actions.

Emotion AI Helps Companies Improve Their CX

  1. Video gaming.Using computer vision, the game console/video game detects emotions via facial expressions during the game and adapts to it.
  2. Learning software prototypes have been developed to adapt to kids’ emotions. When the child shows frustration because a task is too difficult or too simple, the program adapts the task, so it becomes less or more challenging- which is of particular benefit in a world where online classes have become a major part of a learner’s daily engagement.
  3. Employee safety. Emotion AI can help to analyse the stress and anxiety levels of employees who have very demanding jobs such as first responders.
  4. Car safety.Automotive vendors can use computer vision technology to monitor the driver’s emotional state. An extreme emotional state or drowsiness could trigger an alert for the driver.
  5. Software is used during job interviews to understand the credibility of a candidate.
  6. Call centre intelligent routing.An angry customer can be detected from the beginning and can be routed to a well-trained agent who can also monitor in real-time how the conversation is going and adjust.
  7. Public service.Partnerships between emotion AI technology vendors and surveillance camera providers have emerged. Cameras in public places in the United Arabic Emirates can detect people’s facial expressions and, hence, understand the general mood of the population. This project was initiated by the country’s Ministry of Happiness.
  8. Retailers have started looking into installing computer vision emotion AI technology in stores to capture demographic information and visitors’ mood and reactions.

(Moore, 2018)

The Impact of Humanising Customer Service Chatbots

With recent breakthroughs in the field, coupled with changes in public perception and advances in hardware, society has seen AI technologies move to the main stage. Organisations are looking to capitalise by putting these technologies into practice to both capture value, and to hedge against the possibility of disruption.

We seek to evaluate the effects of introducing anthropomorphism in chatbots via the three commonly used social cues: social presence, communicative delay, and humour

Social presence- The more socially present the interactions are, the more engaging the interface; however, the more human-like the interface, the higher expectations that the user has of the machine’s communicative prowess.

Communication delays- In addition to linguistic features, another social cue employed by both researchers and practitioners is delay (Schanke, et al. 2020). From one perspective, delays could be interpreted as the chatbot not working as expected. However, when implemented correctly, slight delays that are dynamic to the amount of text can dictate levels of persuasion and chatbot personality perceptions

Humour– In the fields of sociolinguistics and pragmatics, humour has been shown to introduce feelings of common ground between two communicating social actors. Humour can be an effective way to personify systems, and create a more engaging interaction. Although humour may be beneficial, it does appear that there is some nuance required in implementing humour.

How Chatbots Influence Marketing

We live in an epoch of information overload. In spite of the fact that the basic principles of marketing will remain the same, to a much greater extent they become individualised and contextualised, enabling brands to convert and adapt their current market orientation.

The multiplicity of media and related channels enforces the need to process messages and stimuli in a constant and uninterrupted way- especially when taking the diminished attention span of the average consumer into consideration.

The End of Humanity?

When it comes to everyday life, technology is constantly making headlines for its ability to make us “cold” or “impersonal”—we all know someone who is glued to their screen while on their commute, when hanging out with friends and even at the dinner table- and let’s not forget the now requirement on our lives to socially distant, thus leaning more on tech for or social interactions.

So, is technology also robbing us of our humanity, those qualities that make us humane and kind?

There generally stands a positive as well as a negative framework to most things in life; it all depends on what path you follow. Some of the world’s tech giants are starting to pay more attention to the good, exploring the humanity their innovations can enhance.

There’s that saying: “We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.”

If we think about how we want humanity to be in the future, we need to start with technology today.

 

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