Ethical Dilemmas of a Booming Technology

Ever since Google unveiled the capabilities of Google Duplex in 2018, the chatbot application in the world of marketing has been very reinforced. According to a study by Grand View Research published in April this year, it is expected that in 2027 the market for this sector will reach a volume of forty-five billion dollars (USD 45.1 billion ) . Likewise, it establishes that the increasing use of smart speakers at home as well as the digitization of the retail sector has led to the implementation of electronic commerce through these channels, becoming the main driving factor in the market.

Basically, a chatbot is a technology that uses artificial intelligence to emulate, through text or voice, a conversation with a human interlocutor in natural language . Its main attraction is precisely to allow users the possibility of carrying out processes such as searching the internet for information, reserving a room, processing a claim or following medical treatment in a kinder and more humane way than if they did it with a computer system. . However, we should ask ourselves if this incentive could become its greatest disadvantage .

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The origin of chatbots can be found in the ELIZA program, a development carried out carried out by MIT member Joseph Wizenbaum in 1966. It was a simple program capable of simulating the dialogue between a psychoanalyst and his patient, where the computer played the role of the former. During these conversations with the computer, many of the participants came to believe that they were conversing with a human psychotherapist.

Curiously, instead of celebrating it, Weizenbaum interpreted this as scandalous and became extremely critical of the uses and applications of this type of programs. In fact, ten years later he would publish Computer Power and Human Reason where defended the idea that there are tasks that computers should not do even if technically they could .

In 2017, following the debate that arose regarding the uses and applications of artificial intelligence, the “Barcelona Declaration for the proper development and use of artificial intelligence in Europe” was drafted. In it, up to six ethical recommendations were developed that should be taken into account when implementing these technologies. Among them, I would like to highlight that of “responsibility” which comes to say that at all times must be clear to users if the interaction is being carried out with a person or with an artificial intelligence system. And in the case of the second case, there should be the possibility of locating and identifying those responsible for it.

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In the aforementioned Google Duplex example, the virtual assistant was able to make, by phone, an appointment reservation for a hairdresser without her interlocutor perceiving that it was a machine with whom she was speaking. In this way, it managed to skip the protocol on liability that the Barcelona declaration proposed.

As I mentioned above, the use of these systems based on artificial intelligence has been growing in recent years and its trend of use It is rising in almost all sectors of the industry. Marketing is perhaps one of the most profitable from them, since they involve the ability to automate a large number of simple processes as well as to provide constant attention to the customer and the possibility of having on the other side a telephone operator with a resilience infinite.

However, we should ask ourselves to what extent it is legal to implement this type of system in the way that Google showed us. To what extent would a user be content to deal with a machine without knowing what it is and how they would feel if they discovered it for themselves. Would you continue to use the service we offer? Would you recommend it to a third party? Perhaps, to trust something or someone, the feeling of talking to someone else is not enough, but we need the certainty that we are doing it. Therefore, it is possible that the greatest strength of chatbots can become at the same time their greatest weakness.

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Article published in Puro Marketing. We recommend reading the original.

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