The leading business and research community in humanlike conversational AI, Chatbots.org, has provided 7 candidate terms to reduce confusion over terminology within the industry.
A virtual assistant is an intelligent character on a website, in a game or in a smart phone app, which often looks like a 3D virtual human being. Although the virtual assistant industry is growing very fast, the terminology used is quite inconsistent and often confusing. Therefore, following their recently published list of 127 virtual assistant synonyms, Chatbots.org now suggests 7 excellent candidates which could be adopted by the industry.
Artificial Conversational Entity: One of the most precise synonyms ever defined, it is perfectly suitable to address intelligent virtual humans, as well as for other artificial living creatures such as virtual animals and aliens. Also, no other implications of this term are in use. The term is not particularly exciting, though, which might explain why it is still rarely used.
Embodied Conversational Agent: This term describes a visualised body with conversational skills. Etymological analysis on the word ‘agent’ suggests that users might expect the ECA to act upon their requests, instead of simply providing information. Like Artificial Conversational Entity, the term does not roll off the tongue, but it is well defined by academic researchers.
Virtual People: This term is the social variant of ‘virtual human’ and especially useful for dialogues with an immediate social context. For example, it may describe police officers who are being trained in virtual reality, holding a virtual small crime offender on the street, surrounded by virtual people, who are influencing the conversation.
Conversational Avatar: This term speaks for itself and is highly usable in the virtual assistant context. However, the word ‘avatar’ also has a deeply religious meaning, meaning “descent of a Hindu deity”. Also, it is often confused with the Steven Spielberg’s movie. Combined with ‘conversational’, however, and the meaning of the term becomes quite evident.
Virtual Person: This term is pretty straightforward. A few examples are found using a different meaning, such as the holographic projection of a virtual sales person in a store, without any option for interaction, but it is expected that these meanings will merge in the future.
3D Human: Used by graphic designers to indicate a computer generated image seemingly posessing an extra visible dimension, this term is highly descriptive nowadays, but risks becoming outdated in the near future. Furthermore, a 3d human is also often used to model body organs, bones and nerves, which might be confusing.
Brand Agent: A brand agent is defined as an artificial representative acting on behalf a company, product brand, or governmental organization. It is well defined and no other, significant meanings exist, so its popularity is growing.
Futurist Erwin Van Lun, CEO and Founder of Chatbots.org, says of the matter, “The terminology chaos regarding chat bots confuses potential clients, puzzles job seekers and is slowing down innovation. It’s time for the industry to take its responsibility and standardize terminology. Chatbots.org is happy to facilitate.”
Find out more about these and other synonyms used by the conversational artificial intelligence industry and researchers at:
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