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Any conversation via a conversational interface, like a chatbot, poses the challenge of creating structure from a highly unstructured medium. Which is in this case, a natural language conversation.
Down To Basics
A good approach to Natural Language Understanding application design, is to break the process down into its most basic form.
Any conversation is constituted by the following elements:
This is the basic notion that any conversation has a specific context within which the conversation takes place.
Even when humans have a conversation, context needs to be established first. If not, it leads to misunderstandings.
Context within a conversation is the parts of the conversation that immediately precedes the current passage or words, allowing for clarity and meaning.
Context assists both the user and the conversational Interface to construct meaning from the conversation.
Conversations, and especially story telling was the first form of virtual reality; reproducing events of the past and bygone realities. Customers interacting with the conversational Interface might have contacted us in the past.
It is important to identify those customers and present continuity to their conversation. This is in line with any human conversation; when we meet with a familiar face, we expect a new conversation. but also, entertain the possibility that we will continue a previous conversation.
Again, in any conversation data is captured by one or multiple parties. One or more parties have certain objectives (data) they would like to collect with the conversation.
This leads to an informal process whereby a mental form filling takes place; but in a conversational manner.
4. Directed Dialog
Any conversation is constituted by dialog turns, an interchange of words, phrases and ideas. In most cases the dialog is directed by one or more parties. The direction of dialog is crucial for any conversation so one or more parties can extract meaning, intent and information.
Directing dialog allows for conversations to have a natural narrative arch. Where an introductory phase is followed by rising action and data collection.
Conversations between humans take place via various modalities or mediums. Conversations can be in person, video calls, voice calls, text etc.
The same holds for a chatbot; the bot can have the same anthropomorphized attributes which is available via different modalities and interfaces.
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