Why conversational AI needs the gift of the Blarney

As every good competent and loquacious speaker knows, no true gift of the gab is ever reasonably achieved without first visiting the Irish city of Cork to kiss the Blarney Stone.

But there’s more; this is a truism that pervades further.

As every good User Interface (UI) chatbot-focused designer knows, no true grasp of conversational interfaces platform development excellence driven by AI-powered sentient behavioural awareness can ever be reasonably achieved without first visiting the Irish city of Dublin to attend the ConverCon conference and exhibition.

Ah now, don’t the organisers just wish they had used that on their promotional literature? If they ask nicely we might still let them.

Staged at Microsoft’s Dublin city headquarters on the 6th of September 2018, ConverCon is now in its second year.

This event is designed to bring together the world’s leading conversational interfaces platform players, technology enablers, next level CX (that’s Customer eXperience) design experts and the business community to share enthusiasm, learnings and experiences.

Yes there’s a strong Irish contingent, but the attendees come from a global pool and, thankfully, appear to feature a good number of female speakers and participants.

According to the organisers we can say that, as an industry, conversational UI has many women as founding technologists. You want proof? The original team building Amazon Alexa were nearly all women.

As well as actively promoting gender equality throughout this event, ConverCon also offers #Womenintehnology discounts and has an enviable number of female session speakers, many of whom are also providing hands on tutorial sessions at the event.

Why this event?

So why should we consider going to (or watching any of the social output from) this event?

According to a ConverCon event Q&A, “If the world moves to these kinds of interfaces then companies have to develop a whole new range of technical, design and artificial intelligence skills. Making it happen takes an understanding of the unique challenges of designing conversations, developing on conversational platforms… and then understanding how to include these into application development.”

But why Dublin, Ireland… is not the Blarney Stone connection really is it?

Not as such… it’s due to the tech pool that exists in the region, that is – many of the major players in the new AI driven conversational commerce space are located there: Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft, Oracle, Shopify and also a new crop of Irish start up’s intent on making their mark in this space.

This new breed includes Irish tech talent names such as Intercom, Swrve, Voysis and Webio.

What can designers, developers and those in AI look forward to?

Companies such  as Microsoft, Intercom and Google will be able to publically share some of the major developments that are happening in the space. They will be speaking about how they believe these technologies will influence us today and into the future.

Possible workshops of interest include:

  • Introduction to chatbot development.
  • Working with Natural Language Understanding.
  • Designing for magical interactions.
  • Your bot personality.
  • Technical challenges in architecting bots for cross channel.
  • Text analytics, character recognition and knowledge mining.

This is not a mega expo, this is a boutique conference with attendees in the hundreds rather than the thousands.

Nonetheless, it’s interesting to see it a) in Europe b) well-driven by women in tech c) being staged in such an emerging area of tech and d) being hosted within shouting distance of a very good pint of the black stuff.

We would end this piece with a note of where the nearest pub is to One Microsoft Place, Leopardstown, Dublin… but unfortunately Google Maps is a little hard to drop a pinpoint on that fact and there’s no chatbot function for that kind of request… yet.

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