Reflections on the world’s first Conversation Design Conference UNPARSED

Susann Pocha
31 August 2023

The debut of the Unparsed Conference this year was a testament to the dynamic evolution of the field of Conversation Design. With the advent of AI-driven language models, the landscape has transformed dramatically, raising intriguing questions about the nature of our profession and its relationship with the capabilities of Large Language Models (LLMs).

Evolution of Conversation Design: From Decision Trees to Neural Networks

The conference prominently highlighted the journey of Conversation Design, tracing it from its humble beginnings in decision trees to its current manifestation in intricate neural networks. This evolution demonstrated the remarkable progress our profession has made and set the tone for exploring new avenues and frontiers in conversation design. The most compelling questions were: What constitutes conversation design today? How do our human skills differ from the skills of LLMs? How will Conversation Experts work in the future? What will be their value-add?

This question also drives us at think moto. We see a big shift from crafting conversations to engineering prompts. We are curious to explore all possibilities to develop prompt architectures that can perform any conversation with any specific content.

A Glimpse of the Possibilities of the Future

UNPARSED discussed innovative prototypes, from AI-generated word games to chatbots that can engage in complex philosophical debates. The 20-minute lectures encouraged thinking about AI companions that could truly engage in conversations and raised the exciting prospect of conversational interactions that go beyond mere assistance. Our key takeaway here: When designing these assistants, it is no longer the variations of possible user questions that are the training data, it is the content itself. The better the content provided to the LLMs, the better, more authentic, and more appropriate the answers.

Ethical Considerations

Panel discussions addressed the ethical dimensions of conversational design, reflecting the increasing intertwining of AI and human interaction. The debate over whether AI discloses in advance what sources are used or how trustworthy a statement is being made is deep and mature. There is a consensus that, on the one hand, human education is crucial, and on the other hand, a responsible approach to the use of technology.

Conversation Design as an Art

The heart of conversational design lies not in mere lines of code or algorithms, but in the art of designing meaningful interactions. The user is always at the center. The conference reinforced that technology should adapt to human behavior, reaffirming that conversation design is an art that requires a deep understanding of human nuances and psychology. At think moto, we believe that the process of conversation design is changing, but the result should be useful, helpful, and enriching, as always. This still requires good research, strategy, and an appropriate approach for each use case.

The UNPARSED 2023 conference was an exciting journey that broadened horizons and demonstrated the potential of conversational design. The diverse inputs from the lectures once again demonstrated the importance of lively debate – whether human, artificial, or a fascinating mix of both – continues to shape the way we interact and communicate.

And what influence we as conversation designers should have on what’s technically possible. Because those who use the technology should question it. 

We are excited to see how the field of conversation design will continue to evolve and are looking forward to UNPARSED 2024.