Why Brands From Barbie to Uber Are So Hot on Chatbots

Richard Smullen says a painfully long wait for a Delta Air Lines customer service rep inspired him to join the world of artificial intelligence. One night about a year ago, having grown tired of waiting for a phone operator to change his flight, he turned to the airline’s mobile app—only to find he had to scroll through pages upon pages, unable to get what he needed. In the middle of a formal dinner at the time, he decided it would be faster just to message his sister and have her do it for him. It took her two minutes. “I had kind of an epiphany moment, and this idea arose,” he explained. Smullen founded Pypestream, a 50-person firm that makes automated messaging services for companies around the world. Its mobile…

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