Real, non-materialistic mindfulness practice can help us design for true benefit. It can help us distinguish between what people really want, and what we want them to want. Our desire for them to hate laundry so we can make a wonderful new laundry robot for them, is a form of grasping. Design thinking stories abound about teams that thought their clients needed a certain kind of solution, only to find that what really needed was something else entirely. In order to fully empathize, and be able to see their clients’ reality, the designers had to be able to see what was in front of them. It took mindfulness to let go of their beliefs and assumptions and desires, and relate to the reality of the situation.
The first and foremost question you should ask stakeholders before designing a chatbot is, “Do we really need a chatbot?” Clients may think they need one as chatbots are almost everywhere today, due their growing popularity. However, this may not be the case. It’s best to start by analyzing whether the function intended for chatbot could be carried out by a human instead. A designer should ask themselves, “would a human be better for the end user?” If the answer is yes, you should explain this to clients. Bots should not attempt to replace what humans are good at; rather they should attempt to improve what humans are slow at. After all, machines should work; people should think.
I feel it safe to assume that being residents of today’s digital world, you must be familiar with the concept of chatting via text message. Be it SMS or online messaging, our way of life has been irrevocably pervaded by connectivity. Did you know that 17% of all human interaction happens via text messaging? Well, it should come as no surprise, as there now exist over 4 billion people using messaging applications worldwide.