Statistics suggest that 80% of us will have one by 2020, but Chatbots remain something of a controversial enigma. Chatbots are a relatively new technology, and this has led many to ask the important question: are Chatbots secure? There are many ways to address this question, the most important one being trust.
Business transactions depend on trust, which ranges from trusting that a supplier will deliver their promised services to trusting the advice given by others. With neither being a foregone conclusion, the human mind has evolved to question, critique, and wonder. According to psychiatrists, we tend to focus our trust energy in three main areas: ability, benevolence, and integrity. In other words, when deciding whether or not to trust – regardless if the subject is animate or inanimate, human or robotic – we ask ourselves whether the other party can do what we need, whether it is likely to do what we need, and whether everybody is on the same page.
Can A Chatbot Be Trusted With Data?
Chatbots gain an A+ for ability. For instance, Alexa is an excellent example of a highly evolved Chatbot that has outdone itself by automatically calling emergency services after overhearing domestic violence incidents. However, this type of awareness is also what makes people question both the benevolence and integrity elements of trust.
When Chatbots start to make decisions for themselves, can they be trusted with data? Chatbots give no guarantee that they share our social codes and values, and unless they are built with care and attention, this can become starkly obvious to the user. However, a carefully designed Chatbot will learn in tandem with the growth of a company, priming itself to adhere to company values and codes.
It’s also important to remember that Chatbots are not Star Trek-esque intelligent AIs. They are computer programs that use communication workflows to provide information and harness data. A Chatbot’s ability to keep data secure – and thus be trusted – is nothing to do with personal motivation and everything to do with the security of the software code, your web hosting service, and the user’s computer/browser. A Chatbot is no more or less inherently trustworthy than a website contact form, shopping cart or online banking interface.
Secure Chatbot Design
Current technological advances mean that the most straightforward answer to the security question is to examine the Chatbot designer. If the company has the ability, benevolence, and integrity required to design secure applications, these features are likely to be embedded into the bot.
Evidence of a trustworthy Chatbot include successful answers to questions, swift navigation, and natural conversations. A good Chatbot will also be trainable, so that it gradually learns the best responses to the questions it is likely to be asked, and becomes adept at mining information and satisfying customers. This element of trust is a two-way street: a bot is only as good as its teacher, so it helps to install a Chatbot that you feel comfortable working with.
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