Why you might soon be texting robots as often as your friends

“The robots are coming — to help run your life or sell you stuff — at an online texting service near you,” Brandon Bailey reports for The Associated Press. “In coming months, users of Facebook’s Messenger app, Microsoft’s Skype and Canada’s Kik can expect to find new automated assistants offering information and services at a variety of businesses. These messaging ‘chatbots’ are basically software that can conduct human-like conversation and do simple jobs once reserved for people.”

“Experts say messaging bots can handle a wider range of tasks than apps offered by retailers and other consumer businesses. In part, that’s because bots can recognize a variety of spoken or typed phrases, where apps force users to choose from options on a drop-down menu,” Bailey reports. “Kik, which is popular among U.S. teenagers, opened a new ‘bot shop’ last week. Kik users can talk to bots that will answer questions about the weather, show funny videos or help with online shopping. Slack, a messaging service used by businesses, has partnered with Taco Bell to introduce a ‘Taco Bot’ that helps Slack users order ahead for meals at a local outlet.”

“Tech experts are particularly eager to see what Facebook does with Messenger, since its 900 million users make it the world’s second biggest chat platform after WhatsApp, which claims 1 billion users. Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014,” Bailey reports. “Both are free to users and don’t produce much revenue for Facebook. But if Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has given WhatsApp’s co-founders leeway with their service, executives have signaled they are increasingly looking for ways to make money from Messenger.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: You had us at “Taco Bot.”

Don’t fight it. Embrace your bot overlords!

Microsoft’s ‘Tay’ chatbot turns into a foul-mouthed racist nazi – March 25, 2016


  1. It’s hard to imagine a more mindless pasttime than chatting with your friends about absolutely nothing on Twitter or Facebook. Doing it with robots is even more ridiculous.

  2. About ten years ago I built a chat service into our web presence. We had zero customer interactions, so it was discontinued. Recently, I tried one of the popular AI bot apps, and it’s about 50 percent accurate. Maybe things have changed, and folks are more comfortable with text chatting compared to voice chatting with businesses. But I think people will have an unpleasant experience chatting with early days AI technology, especially when trying to communicate with complex businesses.

    The other thing that concerns me is the amount of data or how much Facebook will now know about people and businesses. Facebook will know people’s doctor, lawyer, church, plumber, etc. They will know the times appointments are scheduled for, what kind of trouble with the law people got into, etc. Think Google on steroids.

    Apple does have patents relating to this functionality, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they build something similar in iMessage. The question then becomes, would Apple collect and eventually monetize the data like Facebook is planning to given their stance on privacy?

  3. Terminology Lesson

    There are bots:
    These messaging ‘chatbots’ are basically software that can conduct human-like conversation and do simple jobs once reserved for people.

    Then there are robots:
    electronic device \electronic device\ n.
    a device depending on the principles of electronics and using the manipulation of electron flow for its operation [PJC]

    A robot is a physical DEVICE. A bot is not.

    I’ve never previously seen any tech journalist confuse the two. Great job, Brandon Bailey who reports for The Associated Press for setting an ignorance precedent. Tech journalism continues to decay into tech illiteracy.

    1. Ah, but I have seen it before. You really must get out more! Bot is a contraction of robot. Only gradually did the word ‘bot’ bifurcate and grow new meanings, which are not yet fully distinguished by all dictionaries and linguistic databases. That darned technology with its annoying innovations—sometimes it changes faster than jargon can keep up with. Besides, bot is really short for botvinnik—decidedly not a robot.

  4. I don’t see bots as becoming all the useful. CNN can’t even send headlines in plain text. It sends an attachment, which I can’t open. I’m not even sure what kind of attachment it is, an image, pdf, or whatever.

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