What the introverts already know about AI and chatbots

Author

John Brandon

February 28, 2017

A machine that can handle basic tasks — think the self-service checkout at Walmart or an ATM machine — is a better option for one particular segment of the population.

That’s right — introverts already know the benefits of machine learning.

Full disclosure here: I have not paid a human for gas in about eight years. There have been a few times when I go into the gas station, but it’s always to scour around for donuts or to find the restroom. (I know I’m a paying customer and have the right to use the facilities.)

A few friends and relatives are in the same boat. Introverts will look for almost any means possible to complete tasks, pay for goods and services, and resolve conflict without speaking to strangers. I’m not quite that averse to the idea, but I do tend to look for self-checkouts.

For AI to go mainstream, this means there are a few considerations. First, introverts will be early adopters, which means we’ll be critical, analytical, and even overly aggressive about it. If the AI controlling a parking ramp doesn’t work right and we have to call an actual human, that will make us hate the fact that there is an AI. At the same time, introverts will also become vocal champions of the tech — through social media, email, and texting of course.

It also means thinking through the dynamics of how to reach extroverts. I also have friends and family who will avoid self-checkout at all costs, preferring in every case to talk to a human. This means an AI has to be that much more engaging, interesting, and helpful. Today, when you pull up to a gas station, you are not dealing with AI at all — it’s an automated system. But that video screen that plays the news or a clip from a sitcom? It’s preparing the extroverts for a future reality when an AI has a personality and can engage in some form of witty conversation.

Because introverts are highly analytical, the AI has to perform at a high level of expertise. I’m known to ask Amazon’s Alexa questions about products, but when the conversation gets too annoying, I’ll quit and go to Amazon.com instead. Extroverts are more willing to have a funny conversation with a bot and are even entertained by the idea of talking more to an AI. Introverts have a harder time with long conversations, especially if anyone else is around.

The good news? Once you hook an introvert, they will keep using the tech for a long time, maybe years or decades. That’s because the idea of engaging with something new and untested is sometimes more difficult — introverts don’t like to “wing it” as much as extroverts do. We’ll use a tool if it provides value, then we’ll stick with it and keep using the tool. It can be harder to keep iterating on features in a chatbot or voicebot, though, because the idea of constantly adapting to new features and function is sometimes harder. We like predictability.

The challenge is to reach both personality types, as well as the people who fit somewhere in between. I’ve used chatbots that seem more sarcastic and less useful than I’d like, which seem to be geared for someone with more of an outgoing personality — all flashing lights and images. I’ve used other bots, especially those in the financial sector and for booking travel, that seem way more serious. There are few images and icons; it’s there to provide a service and nothing more.

The main lesson is that introverts are more likely to use chatbots and are already testing and messaging more in general. My nephew is a diehard introvert and he hates making any phone call to anyone. He’d use a chatbot before just about anyone I know, and even put up with a few issues (but expect them to be fixed) if it means he can eventually complete a task.

How do you design for a personality type? Drop me a line and let me know if you have thought about this issue or agree that introverts are on the forefront of chatbot adoption.

This article was written by John Brandon from VentureBeat and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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