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OPLIN 4cast #486: About bots

Posted in 4cast

chatbotWhat’s all this stuff we’re hearing now about bots? To be more precise, the buzz lately has been about chatbots, which seem to have stolen the “bot” name from all the other kinds of bots that are around. And that’s no surprise, when you have some of the biggest tech companies singing the praises of bots. If you have used Apple’s Siri, you have used a bot. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently called them “the new apps.” Facebook introduced a new bot-building platform at their developer conference last week. Someday soon, using bots may be kind of like having your own personal reference librarian. Exciting stuff.

  • Do people want to talk to bots? (The San Diego Union-Tribune | Jennifer Van Grove)  “More bots are indeed on the way, meaning a pending onslaught of them will usher in a new era in mobile where information comes to you, on your terms — or at least that’s the vision proffered by Zuckerberg and Messenger Vice President David Marcus. They believe you’ll soon be opting for bots over mobile apps and, of course, those pesky 800-numbers. Because why should you have to hassle with opening other apps or speaking to a human to accomplish things? ‘Chatbots are to you and me and today’s culture, what call centers are to our parents’ culture,’ said Brian Solis, the principal analyst at Altimeter Group and an expert on trends in social media.”
  • Facebook’s bots are already revolting (Ars Technica | Annalee Newitz)  “The core of Facebook’s idea is to chase its ever-expanding audience, which is flocking to Messenger. Last year, Messenger was the fastest growing app in the US, and now it has almost a billion users. Though Facebook itself claims 1.59 billion monthly active users, it’s obvious that Messenger has grown massively since becoming a standalone app in 2014. So Facebook is turning Messenger into a platform with open APIs. And just as developers once built apps on top of Facebook, they’ll now build bots on top of Messenger.”
  • Microsoft makes bots the cornerstone of its ‘conversation as a platform’ strategy (ZDNet | Mary Jo Foley)  “Microsoft is making a new Cortana app store available, and will be providing testers with an early preview of new Cortana experiences ‘in the coming months’ via which Cortana will be able to assist with predictive actions, such as looking at users mail and calendar (with their permission) to proactively schedule events on users’ behalf. On the bot front, Microsoft is providing the ability to build not just plain text bots, but also bots that can interact with users via video, animations and ultimately holograms via Microsoft’s HoloLens mixed-reality goggles.”
  • Botlist is an app store for bots (TechCrunch | Sarah Perez)  “Bots are organized by category (e.g. Productivity, Marketing, etc.), or you can filter Botlist by platform. In other words, it’s a simple directory at present, but not much more. Still, the fact that Botlist exists at all – even as a side project – speaks to the growing bot ecosystem now in development, and demand for an organized resource for finding bots that work across platforms, as many today do.”

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