Facebook's 2017 F8 Developer Conference has concluded, and I am left with some excitement for today and additional curiosity about the future related to chatbots.
Top 5 Takeaways for the Present
Within Facebook Messenger, there is now a Discovery Tab that will make it easier to find relevant Bots. Facebook will promote both popular and high-quality chatbots, but also local chatbots based on your location.
Takeaway: Submit your chatbot once if is well trained and responsive
Message tags were released before F8, but they are still very new. Facebook updated the rules, so chatbots can contact a user after the 24+1 window in the following cases: Shipping Updates, Reservation Updates, and Issue Resolution
Takeaway: Chatbots can now be used as a communication channel for updates related to long running requests from users
Facebook will make it easier to get a chatbot up and running for small businesses with Smart Replies. FB will use their Deep Learning tools create a Wit.ai App populated with Stories based on the content on the Facebook Page.
For companies that want a more complex chatbot, such as the ones built by SmallTalk, it will be easy to turn Smart Replies off.
Takeaway: Smart Replies will provide a good first step for small businesses wanting to enable a chatbot
Parametric Messenger Codes
Facebook pushed the use of Messenger Codes at F8. What is new and exciting for Chatbots on Messenger is that we can now add parameters to Messenger Codes, so we can connect users to the Chatbot with the conversation started.
Instead of having just one Messenger Code that takes the user to the front door, we can have many codes which allow the Chatbot to start conversations at a relevant point.
Takeaway: Messenger Codes are much more useful
Chat Extensions are mini apps within Messenger with can be used by all members of a conversation. FB demoed a Task Chat Extension which multiple users accessed to create a shopping list.
Takeaway: Another tool for brands to allow them to engage and support their customers
Top 2 Takeaways for the Future
Natural Language Processing
I was very excited during the Natural Language Understanding @ Facebook session, as Facebook talked about CLUE, which uses Deep Learning for better natural language understanding. I keeping hoping they would announce that CLUE was going to be integrated with Wit.ai. But, alas, that is not the case.
Takeaway: Facebook is making great strides win NLP, but it is not yet easily available via Wit.ai
Understanding Images and Video
Facebook focused a lot on their tools that help users generate awesome content with a mobile camera. As of Q1, Facebook Apps now have easy access to the camera, so it is a lot easier to generate images and videos.
From the perspective of a chatbot developer, I am interested in how a bot might understand a user's intent if the user sends an image or video to the chatbot. Enter tools such as caffe2, which allow real-time processing of videos both of servers and mobile devices.
Takeaway: Bot will soon be able to handle visual intent processing in real-time