You (yes, you!) can Build your own Chatbot (yes, really!)

Hardly a day goes by without hearing news of the latest advances in artificial intelligence (AI) or the release of a new chatbot service. You’d be forgiven for concluding that these things are the domain of uber-geeks, and that your only option is to resign yourself to the role of ‘observer’ as the world changes around you. I’m hear to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way…

You can build your own chatbot without any technical expertise what-so-ever.

Thanks to companies like Motion.ai, chatbot creation is being democratised. Having recently gone into ‘public beta’, I headed over there and grabbed a free account to find out more.

BotBot ‘Eat Healthily’ Experimental Chatbot

Their site claims you can “build, train and deploy bots to do just about anything”. Whilst I was able to easily build and deploy a bot, it wasn’t obvious to me where the ‘training’ came in.

After a brief exchange with the CEO on their Slack channel, they confirmed that the training element was coming soon. This is relevant because of the AI claims… if the system isn’t learning, then it isn’t really intelligent. So, for now at least, it would be more accurate to say that their system allows you to program pre-determined IF-THEN-ELSE statements with ‘natural language processing’ of the user responses.

My goal with these articles is for them to be accessible to non-techies, so allow me to unpack that last sentence for you…

Natural Language Processing means that the computer ‘understands’ the way humans talk (or, in this case, type). You can see an example of this in the screenshot above where Motion.ai has interpreted the colloquial “nope” to mean ‘no’. It can also handle typos. From the programmer’s perspective, this is great because you don’t have to spend time instructing the bot “if the user says ‘nah’, ‘nope’, etc then treat the response as if they said ‘no’”. All of that is handled for you.

IF-THEN-ELSE statements are a way to program for a range of scenarios. A simple example might be:

IF 
the weather is hot
THEN
wear a t-shirt
ELSE
wear a jumper

The result of a set of these instructions looks a lot like a flowchart, as you can see with the motivational ‘eat healthily’ bot I created…

You can try my bot for yourself by clicking the link below (best viewed on mobile):

And, if you think that looks like a bit of fun, head over to Motion.ai and have a go for yourself. Right now it’s free.

Try BotBot for yourself — https://botbot.bubbleapps.io/

Have you got an idea for a chatbot, or did this article inspire you try build one of your own? Please share your ideas and creations in the comments below.


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