I don’t agree with Conversational UI being a step backwards compared to Forms.
Forms (with buttons, links and mouses) have been the classic way humans have interacted with computers for 50 years or so.
Conversational UI’s are bound to replace an interaction model we invented 60 years ago that regular people still have trouble mastering.
They strive to enable a much older form of interaction that’s thousands years older and more natural.
Also, make no mistake there’s a huge difference between Conversational UIs and Command Line.
Command Line is a crude, binary way of interacting, Where you’re either right (the command is valid) or you’re wrong. No middle ground, no context, no meaning, no understanding involved.
Conversational UIs are similar to those in the same way Cars and Self Driving Cars are. Both have wheels and doors but when the former needs step by step directions and [literal] handholding on what to do to take you anywhere and forgives no mistake, the second one understand what you mean and handles itself.
Conversational UIs are about making you believe a Human is on the other end, with all the richness involved.
Sure, with a Human in front of you, you say “Hello”, you need to be civil, polite, explain a bit more when asking something, but in the end, it just feels right, doesn’t it?
Natural Language is more verbose but allows for Self-correction, organic error correction and feedback loops to improve the exchange until meaning has been conveyed properly.
Humans are lazy, when in a discussion, they tend to exert the least possible amount of effort to pass information around.
Natural Language UIs allow participants to provide as little information as needed to be understood meaning while dynamically requiring or providing more as they feel necessary. The number of steps isn’t really relevant there.
It allows for much more powerful context, non-linear flows that aren’t hurdled by the huge complexity of designing the UI that could accomodate them.
Natural language allows users to self-correct, allows them to ask for more context to understand a question, change their entire chain of decisions if some step provides new information.
Put it simply, Speech has always been the most powerful tool humans have invented, that’s what makes us humans, but they could only use it to it’s full power with other humans.
Now computers are learning too.