Chatbots Like Wendy Are Defining How Humans and Machines Communicate
Jul 04, 2019
A lot of people are skeptical about the idea of communicating with machines. Human communication is a unique thing; we are the only species with the capacity for language, and conversations underpin some of the things we most value in life, such as empathic connection with another human being. Machines are generally regarded as inert and cold things, lacking the human spark. We can’t communicate with them, people tend to think. Not really.
Certain types of human exchange — such as those that generate deep friendship — may well lie forever out of the reach of human-machine interaction. But here’s the crux: 99% of the conversations we have in life aren’t like this. When it comes to the more functional parts of life — paying the bills, booking flights and so on — we don’t need any mercurial human connection. What we need is an interlocutor who isn’t in a rush, knows what we want, can answer all our questions, and has excellent informational recall.
Recruitment is a perfect example of an area of life where AI communication can be precisely what humans need. In the early stages of the recruitment process, a recruiter and a candidate need to engage in a two-way exchange where each learns about the other. The more effectively and efficiently this conversation is conducted, the better the process.
People’s typical impression of how chatbots communicate is that it is rushed and shallow. However, this can frequently be how human-to-human interactions feel in recruitment. Recruiters have to conduct multiple introductory calls with many prospective candidates, so they have to move through smalltalk and a set of narrow questions. They have to move fast. This means the conversation easily becomes hasty and robotic.
Every recruiter wants to do the best job that they can, but they are under pressure to deliver, and don’t have all day. Their domain knowledge is limited to their industry of expertise. They can forget to mention important facts about the company, or neglect to ask the right questions. There are real-world constraints to hosting a long and patient chat in the middle of the night when you’ve been working all day.
But a chatbot like Wendy experiences none of these human limitations. In the realm of recruitment — where what is required is a productive and thorough information exchange, in which both parties feel that they are being given the other’s full attention — Wendy is precisely what is needed.
Wendy can conduct thousands of conversations at once and never drops the ball. She is never tired, never distracted, and never in a bad mood. She can have the conversation at any hour of the day. She has immediate and flawless access to the information a candidate needs, and always asks the right questions. Her advanced machine learning techniques mean her follow-ups will be on point, and her excellent data recall means she can answer questions to the degree that will fully satisfy the candidate.
Robots aren’t here to intrude on the modes of communication that are uniquely and irreplaceably human. They aren’t here to replace us. But in those parts of life where we need a routine, monotonous, information-heavy exchange, they can help humans flourish. They can take some of the communicative legwork off of our plate, so we can focus on the more expansive and more creative sorts of conversation. This is how chatbots like Wendy are defining human-machine communication.