Should a chatbot tell you it’s not human?

Chatbots are essentially computer programs which try and have a conversation with you through text, voice or even video.

Over the last few years chatbots have become increasingly more sophisticated, making it harder to tell if you are talking to a bot or not.

Don’t pretend to be human should be the number one rule for any company running a chatbot.

Most businesses follow this rule as it sets the right expectations with the user. This is because most bots aren’t that intelligent. Their responses are based on a decision tree logic which means users can expect some odd or frustrating behaviour.

Google’s bot pretending to be human

Last month Google showed off its new AI assistant having a natural conversation with a human.

Google demonstrated the AI by getting the assistant to phone a hairdresser and book an appointment.

The bot starts the conversation with:

Hi I’m calling to book a woman’s haircut for a client

At no point does it tell the person at the other end of the phone it’s a bot.

You can watch the full conversation on YouTube

What Google have created is incredibly impressive but it crossed an ethical line.

This was just a tech demo but the online backlash forced Google to respond. A Google spokesperson said:

We are designing this feature with disclosure built-in, and we’ll make sure the system is appropriately identified

Bot honesty is the best policy

Lying and pretending to be something the bot is not can lead to irreversible loss of trust.

I would feel deceived and embarrassed if I thought I was talking to a human but it turned out to be a bot. It doesn’t matter how helpful the bot was I couldn’t look beyond the fact I was tricked into believing the someone was actually a something.

I personally think any business has a moral obligation to announce it is using a bot to talk to someone. In fact I would take it one step further and make it a legal requirement.

The good news is honesty really is the best policy. Research indicates people trust robots and chatbots more than human.

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