The conversational user interface: A brief history and futurology of chatbots

Mike McTear, RR Bond

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The short paper provides a brief overview of the history of conversational user interfaces and the recent re-emergence of the ‘chatbot’. Chatbots and smart speakers use natural language processing and understanding (‘AI’) to converse with humans
either using speech or typographical interactions. Human-computer dialogues can be ephemeral or they can be perennial depending on the purpose of the chatbot, whether it be ordering pizza (ephemeral) or a chatbot that coaches a user with mental health and wellbeing content (perhaps more perennial). This paper provides a rapid tour of the history of chatbots from ELIZA to smart speakers, and elicits a series of near future challenges related to conversational user experience, ethics and beyond.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jul 2020
EventHistory of Human Computer Interaction -
Duration: 7 Jul 2020 → …


ConferenceHistory of Human Computer Interaction
Period7/07/20 → …
Internet address


  • AI
  • chatbots
  • HCI
  • Conversational UI


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