While artificial intelligence continues to make strides, I think humans will continue to hold the purse strings for the foreseeable future. The world of chatbots is revolutionizing the way we purchase goods and services, enabling new methods of communication and payment exchange. Can this be the end of humans purchasing goods and services?
“Custobots” is a term coined by Gartner to describe machine customers, non-human economic actors that autonomously negotiate and purchase goods and services in exchange for payment. According to Gartner, by 2018, there were 15 billion connected products with the potential to act as customers, with billions more to follow in the coming years.
According to Gartner, Custobots are one of the top 10 strategic technology trends for 2024, with significant implications for businesses, consumers, and society. For example, Custobots enable new forms of value creation and exchange, such as peer-to-peer transactions between machines or machine-to-human transactions that bypass intermediaries.
Custobots pose challenges and risks, including ethical dilemmas, legal disputes, and security threats. They exemplify how AI is transforming the world, creating new opportunities and challenges.
But why are Custobots beneficial to businesses, and why is there a growing demand for them in companies and businesses:
- One of the primary demands from companies is to provide services around the clock without excuses. Custobots offer 24/7 availability and customer support, ensuring that queries and concerns are addressed at any time of the day.
- Business systems are integrated with personalized experiences, as Custobots use relevant information to deliver personalized experiences to customers.
- The way Custobots handle routing tasks and queries reduces costs and increases efficiency. It also reduces the workload on human employees, potentially leading to cost savings for businesses.
- Custobots can collect valuable customer data, which can be analyzed to gain insights into customer preferences and behavior.
- Custobots are digital entities that can easily scale up to handle increased customer interactions without the need for additional physical resources.
- Custobots open up new possibilities for machine-to-machine transactions and innovative business models, allowing them to autonomously negotiate and purchase goods and services.
Let’s say in E-commerce Customer Support,
Chatbot implementation can handle customer inquiries and support around the clock. Customers can receive quick responses to common questions, order updates, and even personalized product recommendations, leading to higher customer satisfaction and sales.
Well, in the healthcare industry,
Custobots could be used for monitoring patients’ health data and providing personalized advice. Patients could receive reminders for medication, dietary suggestions, and exercise recommendations. It improves patient care and also reduces the burden on healthcare professionals.
However, there are still unknown aspects of Custobots:
- The impact on social relationships is uncertain. If Custobots become common in the workplace, there is a possibility of losing meaningful interactions with human representatives. We may miss the personal touch and empathetic communication that humans provide.
- The impact on our sense of identity could be challenged, as the performance of humans and Custobots will be compared in the future, and decisions may rely more on performance. It may lead to social isolation and loneliness and challenge the economic situation.
- The long-term impact on society is still unknown. It could lead to a utopian future where humans are free to pursue their creative and intellectual potential, or it could lead to a dystopian future with humans being enslaved by machines.
- The social norms and etiquettes can be changed and it may sound awkward or unconventional social situations to adapt to work with new ways of interacting with machines.
- Trust may shift into new dynamics of role-playing by machines.
- The more overreliance on machines increases, it may lead to concern about the way we used to work and our self-identity can lead to questions about our value and uniqueness in the world.
- Dependency on technology in their daily lives may lead to a sense of loss of control and identity. A new culture of acceptance and resistance to Custobots can shape the ethical realities.
But can the challenges and risks be ignored?
- A major concern is the fear of unemployment, as Custobots are capable of automating many tasks currently done by humans. Can it lead to job displacement?
- Humans need to maintain control over Custobots to mitigate the risk of malfunction or malicious use.
- Privacy and data misuse are major concerns due to the ability of Custobots to collect and analyze large amounts of data about individuals.
- Safety risks could be posed by Custobots if they are not properly designed and tested for use in manufacturing, potentially causing accidental injury to workers.
- A significant ethical concern is associated with the use of Custobots. Who is responsible for the actions of Custobots?
Let’s say in the manufacturing unit,
The company introduced Custobots to automate routine assembly line tasks. While this increases efficiency, it also results in job displacement for human workers. As we can see, a future situation of workforce issues and economic concerns may develop.
Or say on social media platforms,
Deploying Custobots analyzing user behaviour and preferences for targeted advertising. This raises a huge concern about user data privacy and the potential misuse of personal information.
Custobots controlling critical infrastructure, like power grids or transportation systems, are vulnerable to cyberattacks. A breach could result in serious safety and security risks.
It is important for businesses to monitor the performance of Custobots and ensure their safety to address the challenges and risks they pose.
Defining clear objectives and performance criteria such as, “What functions should the Custobots perform, and what are the desired safety standards? The functionality of Custobot should be checked and tested for any autonomous decisions.
The security measures, data handling procedures, and evaluating its performances in high-stress scenarios.
AI assistants like Siri and Alexa may be able to order the occasional pizza or add items to our shopping lists, but they’re still a long way from truly replacing humans as consumers. However, we humans also make mistakes in communication and the way to interact or engage with our neighbours and societies.
AI chatbots can be a reminder that we need more polite and responsible conversations with each other than any other rude engagement.