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Mark Stephens Meadows developed his first simple chatbot in 2001, but what he’s working on now is much more than that: as the CEO of Botanic Technologies, he’s working on designing multimodal bots for conversational interfaces with several use cases, including gaming and healthcare.

Designed as a combination of multiple AI systems, these bots have the ability to exhibit different facial expressions and use different tones of voice, thereby creating a more meaningful, human-like interaction for the user. Meadows explains what it is about bots that produce both trust and mistrust in humans, why people are likely to provide more information to and take advice from a bot than a human, and the single biggest design concern–how to avoid the uncanny valley effect.

He also discusses what he believes to be the three primary ethical issues arising from the use of artificial intelligence, which formed the basis of Botanical Technologies’ venture called Seed. “…Because we have these ethical questions in front of us, we make a system that is completely transparent, completely open-source…and allows people to authenticate bots…Seed is a Marketplace for developers and the users of the bots to ultimately democratize artificial intelligence. We need to democratize artificial intelligence because we see a lot of things that could go wrong if we don’t,” says Meadows. So, what exactly could go wrong? Tune in for specific examples and an overall compelling conversation.

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