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This week, Travis and Stewart talk about the future of AI, and Stewart has a big issue with a study of over 1,600 experts, wondering how they could collectively be so wrong.

We then interview the awesome Ben Parr, who continues the conversation on AI, chatbots, and where this is all headed.


By listening to this episode of VB Engage, you will hear:


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  • Welcome to VB Engage episode 58! [0:10]
  • Stewart is literally melting this week; it is pretty hot in America. [0:50]
  • MobileBeat was in the upcoming week, during our recording. This year, MobileBeat is focused on artificial intelligence! [2:35]
  • In the news, we discuss what it takes to build a compelling chatbot. [04:05]
  • Anyone can create a good chatbot, with a good script.  Most chatbots are boring. [04:50]
  • Tips for chatbot success, 1. Have a purpose! 2. Have a personality! 3. Be good at conversation. 4. Be discoverable. [06:10]
  • Chatbots HAVE to spark emotion. If not, they will fail. [07:00]
  • The personality of a developer is not the same mind as someone who might typically create a great chatbot creative script. [07:45]
  • Most businesses in the world are small and medium size businesses, and they have different needs than enterprise businesses. [09:30]
  • Utah’s Podium scores $32m in funding and is creating 400 new jobs that help SMBs communicate with customers through online reviews. [10:20]
  • It’s a Consumer Reviewlution, you guys! [11:10]
  • If you are a small business and you don’t have a local review strategy, you’re going to lose to a competitor that does. [11:45]
  • Report: Experts predict when AI will exceed human performance. [12:15]
  • 1600 leading experts in AI were interviewed to get their opinions. [12:45]
  • Stewart thinks it is complete rubbish. [13:00]
  • Look at these charts, and you’ll see that some of them can already be done by AI, and this report disputes that. [14:00]
  • AI can already play Atari games better than humans. [14:30]
  • AI can already beat humans at poker. [14:45]
  • Language translation is almost as good as humans. [15:25]
  • Travis the Translator is a device that translates into 80+ languages. [15:50]
  • A lot of these areas are ripe for disruption, but many of these have already occurred. [16:45]
  • Eventually with AI, we will become like the humans in Wall-E, 700lbs with everything done for us. [18:00]
  • There is a huge societal shift coming by 2025, a massive shift in humanity. [18:30]
  • Here’s the link to the full AI research report from the Future of Humanity Institute. [19:00]
  • This week’s guest is Ben Parr, the cofounder of Octane.ai. [19:15]
  • He is the author of Captivology, and you may remember Ben from his Mashable days. [19:35]
  • Since Facebook opened up their chatbots in 2016, there are over 40,000 chatbots out there, and 17 percent of Facebook users are choosing to interact with chatbots. [21:05]
  • A bot is never, ever going to be the end-all game.  You need to be communicating with your customers on all channels. [21:50]
  • You have websites, social media, chatbots,
  • “If your customers want to communicate with you with a fax machine, you’d better have a fax machine.” Gary Vaynerchuk. [23:15]
  • How do we solve the discoverability problem with chatbots? [24:00]
  • Octane helps people discover chatbots through their content. [24:45]
  • You must actually do some marketing to let people know what you have a chatbot. [25:40]
  • There is now a job for chatbot script writers. [26:25]
  • Manage your expectations on your bot upfront. Realize it is for a specific experience. It won’t do or answer everything. [27:00]
  • Success isn’t necessarily if your users come back daily, but when you pull them in via great content. [27:30]
  • What are some of the more interesting use cases of chatbots that Ben has noticed? [28:10]
  • Maroon 5 uses them to connect to fans and uses messenger codes at their shows and concerts. [29:05]
  • ABBI is a medical marijuana dosage recommendation chatbot. [29:40]
  • The band Sublime already answered the correct dosage, so there’s no need for a chatbot. [30:00]
  • We need a bot to view sites to see if they’re safe before we click through. [30:40]
  • Ben gives some best practices about building a successful bot. [31:45]
  • If you want a fully custom bot, build your own. If you’re trying to market, then use a tool like Octane.ai.
  • You don’t need to have all of your content up front to start; think of it as a blog.
  • Put out new content weekly — that will bring your audience back in. Start building an audience. Put out new content. Keep it fresh. Know your goals. [32:45]
  • Connect with @BenParr on all social channels. Connect with his chatbot: http://m.me/benparr

Next week on episode 60, we have Gary Nix on to discuss social media engagement and growth strategies.

If you missed episode 58, we chatted with Rishi Dave, which gave us a chance to be schooled by one of the leading CMOs on everything martech and account-based marketing related, including the future of AI.

As always, thanks for tuning into VB Engage. Please review it and rate it on your favorite podcast platform. We will be back next week for episode 60, unless of course, Stewart melted from the 120+ degree SoCal heat.


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