By Vanessa Castañeda

Why Conversation Bots?

A conversation bot can exchange information with other programs and humans, using the conventions of a natural-language conversation to gather data understand questions, and solve problems.

The earliest conversation bots included interactive voice response systems for telephones, which allow users to speak, use touchpad tones, or both in order to navigate the system. The pursuit of IVR systems began in the 1930s, when Bell Labs first synthesized speech, according to Martin Marinov at CallerReady.

Early IVR systems were endlessly frustrating for users, since the inputs they recognized were limited to a handful of phrases, and their ability to recognize what users said was often poor. Today, “few technologies are more despised than interactive voice response,” says Forbes writer Jason Bloomberg. “Instead of repeatedly pressing zero, we can all now repeat ‘representative’ until we finally get a human on the line. Is this progress?”

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