To do this Facebook’s researchers are working on ways of training its bots to think beyond the here and now by presenting them with conversations between real people as they negotiated deals. In this way super smart programs can be trained to learn from these experiences and even devise novel strategies of their own – such as the art of bluffing.
Outlining its progress thus far in a blog post the social media giant said: “Interestingly, in the [Facebook AI Research] experiments, people did not realize they were talking to a bot and not another person — showing that the bots had learned to hold fluent conversations in English in this domain.”
At the moment such skills are limited to arbitrary lists of objects, each of which has been assigned an inherent value, but Facebook has high hopes the technique could yield results in a wide range of areas such as facilitating meetings, brokering deals or negotiate the best price on eBay.
Firms which have embraced chatbots include the likes of TFL which uses them for timetabling queries; Just Eat which allows Messenger users to order takeaway food in this way and BBC Earth which employs the tech simply to make people smile.