Chat UX Is Great, But Wait Till You See Agent UX
The future isn't here yet, but it's coming fast
I’ve been a massive fan of natural language interfaces in the form of Chat UX for a long, long time. Even before I started HubSpot (in 2006), I was noodling on natural language interfaces for business software. But, could never quite get it to work well enough.
Turns out, I was about 17 years too early.
Now, thanks to OpenAI and ChatGPT we’ve finally gotten to experience the magic of using natural language to ask software for what we want.
And that’s been awesome.
But…I don’t think that’s the end of it when it comes to how we interact with A.I. (and software in general).
I think there will be new developments on the UX front so not everything you do in AI is via a chat-based user experience. (Yes, this is coming from the guy that was excited enough about Chat UX to buy both chat.com and chatux.com).
What might drive some of that evolution is the emergence of Agent AIs (software that can pursue goals on your behalf).
The Limitations Of Chat UX
Right now, the most commonly used interface for accessing the power of A.I. is ChatGPT.
You enter what’s called a “prompt”, in natural language, asking ChatGPT for what you want, and it goes and tries to do that for you. (Yes, we have multi-modal support now too, but the basics are still the same).
So with this model, A.I. doesn’t really start doing anything for you until you ask it to by entering a prompt. That’s fine for a lot of things — but not everything.
A.I. Magic Without The Micromanaging
There will be times when we want A.I. to be working on our behalf, in the background. And, if something relevant/important/interesting comes up, A.I. can then reach out to us and initiate a conversation.
Example: Imagine an agent that knew you were a strategic consultant in the eCommerce industry — and interested in A.I. The agent is monitoring the Internet and sees that the videos from OpenAI’s Dev Day event were recently posted to YouTube. One of those videos was a panel where one of the participants was a director of product at Shopify, a platform many of your clients use. The agent grabs the full transcript of the video, finds segments that were interesting and then pings you not just with the snippet, but an analysis and explanation as to why you should spend 5 minutes reviewing that snippet, and what actions you should take.
The point here is that you are not expected to monitor social media every day, find interesting videos, go to ChatGPT and then have it analyze the transcript and then see if anything interesting is happening.
You can just go about your day doing the awesome things you do, and the agent works on your behalf in the background.
But wait, there’s more.
Fire And Forget - The Power of Async UX
Right now, when you do something in ChatGPT (or whatever your A.I. tool of choice is), you’re generally sitting down, having a back and forth with the A.I. It’s (mostly) happening in real-time and you’re waiting for the results of each step. Do this. Wait, tweak that. OK, now do this. Now this.
That’s fine most of the time. There’s something gratifying about getting the results right now-ish. But, that doesn’t always make sense.
In real life, there are often times when you want to just assign something and have someone spend some time on it. Pull together a bunch of bits. Iterate. Then synthesize into something high quality that you can then review.
You want to fire off the request, and then forget about it until they have something really good for you to review.
The same can apply to the world of A.I. Imagine being about to just give an agent a high-order goal and then it goes off and does the work which may take a while, and then it pings you when it’s got something for you.
Example: “The big annual conference for my industry happened recently and the content is now all on YouTube. Go analyze all that content and create a 15 minute summary video that includes any mentions of my company, my key partners or my key clients. Based on social media, figure out what hashtags were used, and which quotes got the most uptake. Give me any big highlights or announcements. Add text captions to the video of who is speaking and what my relationship is to them, if any.”
NOTE: This is just me dreaming of where A.I. can go. You should not take this as something I or HubSpot are currently working on. Just planting some seeds for all of us so we can dream together.