It's hard to keep up with all the progress that's being made in ai nowadays. Watson is paving the way for different uses of machine learning, Waymo is driving safer than humans or a simple tool as x.ai schedules meetings for you. At the same time some of those ai's get a face by means of a bot and they are popping up everywhere. In weather forecast there is Poncho who is learning to get “thin content” which is activity that “takes place within the notification layer and also on a messaging platform that’s contextually relevant, customized, and comes at the right time, but with enough polish to be engaging and cause a happy emotion.”. Or maybe you don’t know what to cook for dinner and talk to Messenger bot Dinner Ideas. You tell it what you’ve got left in the fridge and the bot gives you a recipe with your ingredients. Step by step these ai's and bots are improving and becoming more humane.
As Jack Bauer was really obsessed with time and deadlines in the series 24, his legacy continues within our office as our time-management bot: Jack Hauwer. Jack is our (needed) help when it comes to time tracking and logging hours for clients. Jack knows how many hours we haven’t logged yet and is simply helping by reminding us of that fact.
Herman is a simple Slack bot who acts as an assistant with our food and drinks in the workplace. He chooses who’s getting bread which day of the week, reminds the chosen person and also keeps a grocery list of extra stuff we want. Herman is a good example of a bot that started out with a simple task to becoming an important part of our company.
“If la vida gives you limones, ask for salt and tequila” is something Señor Nacho González, our new bot, says. Señor Nacho can detect a range of emotions because of the analyses we make with Watson. With help of the machine learning we let him look at the texts everyone writes in Slack and by using linguistic analyses it can detect emotions. He tells us in "Spanglish" on a given Slack channel the top three members of every mood.
Our takeaways from our Fonky bots
They make people react to bots and to each other. When a bot doesn’t work as it's supposed to and doesn't say something when people expect it, they’re upset. Or when a bot brings up a topic or a conversation starter, it triggers people to discuss it and take the conversation from digital to analog. You could argue that employees should do this regardless if there is a bot or not. But a bot makes things easier when people are busy or stressed. Our bots makes us connect more to each other and ironically make us more human.
Here at Fonk the existence of bots comes from the need to automate simple laborious tasks. The things bots are great at is being consistent, on time and automate manual tasks. They can also crunch a lot of data and give us advices/solutions based on all that data. That is very interesting because they can quickly work through much more data than humans can. That’s something we can use bots even more for at the workplace.
On Friday 4:30 PM our loyal bot Herman-Brood announces that it’s beer-time. Although the employees know that he’s programmed to do so and it’s a standard message on Friday at 4:30 PM, they love it and reply to Herman. Another example is when Jack Hauwer reminds us of the fact that we haven’t logged our hours. We know that he’s saying it because of an empty database field, but we still say “shut up Jack”. It shows that people react to bots as if they are human beings. Imagine what happens if bots get their own Westworld-like personality on Slack and you couldn’t tell the difference anymore.