Why TVbots Are The Next Big Thing
Giorgio Robino

There’s an old saying: if all you’ve got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I still believe chatbots are little more than a fad. They mimic intelligence, yet they are merely complex keyword scanning algorithms.

One problem is that they obfuscate the options available to the user. With a GUI you see what you can do. With a theoretical Sam-like AI, you could do anything. But with an unintelligent chatbot, you can only do what’s been specifically programmed into it. There’s the illusion of talking to someone, but once the chatbot can’t parse your wish anymore, the illusion falls apart quickly. That’s Siri’s Achilles heel. And yes, that’s also Alexa’s — I notice that every day. It’s so annoying to tell Alexa something and she repeatedly doesn’t understand it. I’m not certain whether that’s what people want from their TV.

Now, with voice-only control the advantage is still clear: it’s an interface that normally you wouldn’t have. But text-based chatbots compete with traditional GUIs, and as such I’m just not convinced. Not convinced of their advantages, of their efficiency, and most importantly of people tolerating when chatbots fail to parse.

Your concept of a “TV hub” feels almost anachronistic to me. The trend appears to go into a different direction: the TV loses importance, and people tend to have more screens in their lives. An IoT hub sure, but I think everything else is completely unpredictable right now. In fact, Microsoft pretty much tried your concept with the Xbox One and Kinect (which I really liked), but the mainstream wasn’t interested. And this “TV hub” substituting home phones, really? Who even uses home phones anymore?? In the western world, the market share of home phones is dropping fast, and in developing countries like India they are skipped altogether.

I think mobility is key. You’ve got that with videochat on mobile phones. In fact, you’ve got that with the original Echo and Echo Dot since they work across the room. But a stationary device to have to sit down in front of to chat? No way.

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