Have you developed a conversation platforms that exist today? I’ referring to init.ai, Microsoft bot platform, etc.
You pinned it: they are decision trees, like in a phone tree. They simply replace the number with a “natural language processing”, and they are a bit more flexible in switching branches.
I also have a hard time to understand the buzz around bots — which have been around for more than 10 years on IRC. I find the UX better by tapping on buttons rather than typing to pretend having a conversation if the decision tree is restricted.
Now, I see the benefit if the bot listens to a human conversation, and makes suggestions when it’s relevant.
And I’m convinced that there will be further progress in natural language processing and artificial intelligence, and the bots which are quite stupid today will become more useful in the future. In the meantime, people experiment.