Small Talk on Dialogflow – Chatbots Life


Kushaal Rao
Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

If you have ever sat in a coffee shop and indulged yourself in the highly interesting albeit creepy pastime of “people watching,” you are bound to have noticed the abundance of small talk exchanged between patrons of the cafe.

Small talk is such a weird concept— it’s so irrelevant and meaningless but it’s also such an essential part of human interaction that if you chose not to partake in it and cut to the chase instead, some might consider you rude. I think it’s clear which side of the small-talk spectrum I’m on…oops.

Anyway, small-talk is one of the characteristics that differentiate human interactions from machine interactions. A robot is built for one specific task and one specific task only; it does not know the world beyond its limited functionality. Humans, however, have immediate access to vast amounts of knowledge, which allows them to shoot the breeze aimlessly.

Dialogflow, in an effort to emulate an authentic human interaction, included a cool small-talk feature which comes pre-programmed for basic remarks made in almost every conversation.

The first step is to enable the small talk intent.

As you can see, there are multiple categories of small-talk that Dialogflow has given us. Here is a glimpse into what the “About agent” section looks like.

Dialogflow has also considered the possibility of troll questions, which I think is pretty cool!

That’s it folks! That’s really all there is to it. It’s quite a simple feature, but I think it makes a world of a difference for the user that is interacting with it because the chatbot can now handle simple questions that are not relevant to its particular task.

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