After chatbots

There is, understandably, a lot of excitement these days about chatbots. They seem magical (although one quickly learns their limitations), and major companies such as Apple and Google are embracing them in the user interface.

But there is something counterintuitive about a future in which we rely on chatbots. Over time, the most successful technologies are the ones that do not require our attention. Think for a moment about your kitchen appliances, plumbing, home HVAC system, phone switching network, and many other subsystems that you use every day.

In the long run, the successful support technologies are the ones that we don’t need to think about at all. They do what we want without requiring us to focus our attention on them.

I suspect that after this temporary focus on chatting with computers, things will move on. Our AI-enhanced computers will get better at figuring out what we want without us needing to continually spell things out for them.

Eventually we will start to forget that our computers are continually providing us with high quality AI support. And that will be the sign that they are doing a great job.

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