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The (ro)bots are here

robotFor decades sci-fi movies have told us robots will take over the world one day. We don’t have to prepare for a robot war just yet, but they are part of our lives. We just don’t realise it. 

Bots have been in the news recently; some, like Tay, for the wrong reasons. But why all the fuss suddenly?

One of the reason is the swift improvement of the artificial intelligence technology bots are powered with. Key Silicon Valley players Facebook, Google and Telegram have been at the forefront of these developments. At Wednesday’s F8 conference Facebook announced that were adding various bots, including a CNN bot, to their Messenger app.

Most of us don’t know what a bot is and what it does. Even though it sounds suspicious, a bot is merely software designed to automate and complete simple and repetitive tasks you would usually perform yourself. For example, adding appointments to your calendar or making reservations, ordering food, etc. If you were living in America, you’d be able to use the Taco Bell bot to order and pay for your meal.

Chatterbots or chatbots are used in messaging apps and to simulate conversations via auditory or textual methods. They are designed to engage in small talk and ideally they should convince the person on the other end that the program is human.

Large international companies Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, Renault and Citroën all use automated chatterbots.  They can be used to answer basic customer enquiries, a function a call centre agent might normally deal with, or to acquire information. 

Other bots can help you schedule meetings by e-mail. The bot is added to your e-mail thread and continues the conversation needed to schedule a meeting. 

Unfortunately, bots can be used for malicious purposes. For example, posing as a human in chat rooms to tempt users to divulge personal information. They can be found on Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger and other instant messaging protocols.  

Next time you send a chat message to someone at a call centre, you might be talking to Amy, the bot, not Amy, the human. We can confirm that all our own IT Service desk agents are 100% human.

More recent articles on bots (and robots!):

Shopify acquires Kit, the artificially intelligent marketing bot
Hitachi’s cute new customer service robot seeks out lost customers
Fear the future: Donalddrumpfbot coming to Facebook Messenger 
Facebook’s David Marcus explains how bots are going to change Messenger
This personal shopping startup just launched one of the first Facebook Messenger bots
Facebook launches Messenger platform with chatbots
Microsoft created a bot to auto-caption photos and it’s going hilariously wrong




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