What are AI chatbots good for? Lovers of sci-fi novels may recall the “librarian,” a character in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 classic “Snow Crash” — not a person but an AI program and virtual library that was capable of interacting with users in a conversational manner. The fictional concept suggested an elegant and accessible solution to the knowledge discovery problem, just so long as the answer to whatever query it was being asked lurked in its training data.
Fast-forward to today and AI chatbots are popping up everywhere. But there’s one major drawback: These general-purpose tools are failing to achieve the high level of response-accuracy envisaged in science fiction. The version of a conversational AI in “Snow Crash” was almost unfailingly helpful and certainly did not routinely “hallucinate” (wrong) answers. When asked something it did not explicitly have information on, it would “fess up” to a knowledge gap, rather than resorting