Task-oriented conversation is demonstrated again

Here’s an interesting little article in Ars Technica a little while ago.  The upshot: people having conversations via SMS/text follow pretty much the behaviour patterns you would expect from a focused conversation.

Basically, they built a mathematical model that describes what you’d expect from two people having a conversation that is about something — an initial burst of activity, then gradually trailing off — and then compared that against real-world SMS traffic data.  Not too shockingly, with some adjustment of tunable parameters, it matched.

There isn’t anything too surprising here, but there’s an important ramification: they’re playing with the mathematics that underlie conversation.  Task-oriented conversation follows some fairly regular patterns, and they’re expressing those patterns.  This likely has implications for people building conversation systems, since it gives you an idea of what to expect and how to optimize for it…

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