Conversation Design & Sanity

I’ve been thinking about the art of conversation and staying sane.

The art of conversation raises some questions.

To start with, does being aware that conversation is an art and there is a flow of information, goals, and needs not change all conversations going forward? The act of observing changes what is being observed, so I’ve found that trying not to think about the art of conversation has kept me most sane.

My grandmother once asked me where her mind was, and I told her I couldn’t find it in the backseat of the car. Thinking about conversation feels quite similar. The pragmatic aspects of executing and developing a conversational AI feel more at home, and a little less meta when it inevitably comes to mind during an unrelated discussion.

While I can be disappointed that we are still many years from developing a system that can interpret the subtleties of sarcasm, I can also work with what we do have. It does mean that we are limited to canned responses when it comes to wit and humor – leaving the user looking for that something else when it comes to conversationally connecting. Or worse, removing the user’s humanity and sense of conversation until we develop such a capability.