What we know — and need to know — about chatbots

It has been a dream of science fiction authors since the advent of computers: hands-free interfaces that can respond to our every whim — without the need to strike a single key.

That future is now closer than ever, with engineers across dozens of industries hard at work designing both computers and mobile devices that can interact through simple conversation. Known as natural language Interfaces (NLI), expectations are that this form of communication will spread from talking programs such as Siri, Alexa, and Cortana — and most recently, Samsung’s Bixby — to a multitude of interactive apps and programs in the coming months. And, in many cases, it already has.

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