Conversational AI Explained

Zubair Talib
2 min readJan 25, 2021


An exploration of voicebots, chatbots, intelligent virtual assistants, and the latest machine learning technologies behind conversational AI.

Elvis Image Source, Original Song Link.

The idea of speaking to an intelligent agent and having a human-like conversation has intrigued and captivated the imagination for decades.

In recent years, Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa have started to fulfill some of the promise of having a virtual assistant attend to basic tasks and simple information retrieval. However, when it comes to business applications the results have been less impressive. Text-based chatbots emerged with a limited range of success and true voice-based agents didn’t fare much better than the old-style IVR phone-trees. What used to be “press 1 for yes”, became “say ‘yes’ for “yes”.

I’ve worked in a range of startups that had deep technology focus on understanding human language ranging from information retrieval and classic natural language processing (NLP) to modern chatbots and intelligent virtual agents. The last several years have brought incredible progress in NLP and I’m personally very excited about the near-term and long-term prospects of the field.

I enjoyed a recent hobby exploration on neuroscience and AI and thought I would attempt a similar style series of posts that provide an overview on Conversational Artificial Intelligence (Conversational AI).

The goal is to provide a quick crash-course into the field so that you have a good birds-eye view of both the business and technical aspects of the field, why it's interesting, and where to look for solutions or more information.

This blog series will be published with contributions from data scientist Leonardo Cordoba. Some of the topics we aim to address include:

Disclaimer: While this blog is meant for fun and educational purposes I do leverage knowledge and experience from companies where I have a prior or current affiliation including (recruiting chatbot), Qu (voice-based analytics app), and ConverseNow (voicebot for food ordering).