Augmented conversations

Something fascinating is going on with WeChat:

WeChat has popularized the concept of “official accounts” for brands and public figures. They’re kind of like the IRC and AIM bots of yore — think SmarterChild but for banks, phone companies, blogs, hospitals, malls, and government agencies. Many institutions that otherwise would have native apps or mobile sites have opted instead for official accounts.

You can send any kind of message (text, image, voice, etc), and they’ll reply, either in an automated fashion or by routing it to a human somewhere. The interface is exactly the same as for chatting with your friends, save for one difference: it has menus at the bottom with shortcuts to the main features of the account (though it can be toggled away to reveal the normal text field).

Because you're having a conversation over text, you can swap out the AI with a person on the other side. Conversational systems could be hybrid Augmented Intelligences

This approach is a bit like being able to cheat the Turing Test... passing a message from a human when convenient.

Also: conversational UI.