The future of customer service might cut out the humans

Most chatbots can’t compare to a human being, but there’s big money in the idea that they will -- eventually.


January 29, 2020

Eventually, robots are going to replace us all. Some startups are betting on it. 

As Fast Company reports, a gaggle of them are raising money to create armies of AI-powered customer-service avatars. They’re supposed to look and talk just like humans.

But they call it the Uncanny Valley for a reason

The avatars are creepy, and most chatbots can’t hold a candle to a flesh-and-blood human. That said, there’s still big money in the idea that avatars could do the work of entire customer-service teams — eventually.

  • A New Zealand–based company called Soul Machines recently raised $40m in Series B funding.
  • Directly, another company that focuses on AI-powered customer service, just raised $20m from Samsung and other investors.

Press 0 to talk to a person

Some companies know that they can’t — and maybe shouldn’t — build systems to replicate all human interactions. 

Uneeq, another company focused on “digital brand ambassadors,” has created nonhuman characters that might be just as effective. 

Factory workers, watch out — they’re coming for your jobs, too

The AI startup Covariant says it has developed technology that allows robots to pick through packages more efficiently. The company says the robots are just as good as humans, or even better.

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