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We tested Amazon’s new shopping chatbot. It’s not good.

Washington Post via MSN: “Amazon is experimenting with an artificial intelligence chatbot to help you figure out what to buy. Instead of sorting through thousands of options for vacuum cleaners, you can ask the chatbot to recommend the best models for hardwood floors or for sucking up pet hair. The chatbot called Rufus, which Amazon announced last month, is still under development. In my testing over the past several days, the chatbot wasn’t a disaster. But I also found it mostly useless. I’ll get to the details shortly. In general, I thought the shopping bot was at best a slight upgrade on searching Amazon, Google or news articles for product recommendations. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.) A test version of Amazon’s shopping bot is available only for a select few. That’s good because it needs a lot of work. I am prepared to change my mind if the chatbot significantly improves. An Amazon spokesperson said feedback from people who tested the chatbot “has been positive.” The company said it would continue to refine the AI to make the chatbot better. The experience encapsulated my exasperation with new types of AI sprouting in seemingly every technology you use. If these chatbots are supposed to be magical, why are so many of them dumb as rocks?…”

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