BOTS , for sure, is the latest and greatest derivative of SMAC. It is imperative to get acquainted with it. I am discussing few key things you should know about BOTS.
Need help getting somewhere? Worried that you’ll forget about that super-important seminar next week? Just looking for a way to destress? Never fear, the bots are here!
This is clearly a world unlike any other, with a massive reliance on tech, and this will only increase due to bots. Chances are that you’ve probably been using bots without even knowing it.
Bots and the people developing them are only getting smarter, and people are beginning to trust them more. Bots have evolved from performing mundane tasks to more complex ones.
Here are six things you need to know about bots:
What are they?
Bots are a short form for Robots. Bots are automated programs which run on scripts and perform various functions assigned to them. Think of them as online robots or e-robots. Bots can be used for both conversational as well as operational purposes.
The internet is the realm of the bots, and chatbots rule the kingdom of bots. Chatbots are bots which are scripted to interact with people and respond to their commands. They are either built for chatting, performing meaningful functions, or a combination of the two. They communicate with the human through textual or auditory methods often appearing to users as another user instead of a bot.
What are they good at?
It is not easy to build useful bots and we still have more bots which can perform only basic tasks. Useful bots are usually more efficient and faster than humans, saving time for the company. Like the internet spam and useful mail, useful bots are primed to completely alter the workplace environment, if they haven’t already or overwhelm us with their stupidity.
Bots are the ‘in-thing’ right now because their applications in today’s world are almost limitless. There is a multitude of actions that bots can perform which would either be too cumbersome, difficult or repetitive for a normal human to do. By providing quicker service and responding to customers faster than humans, bots can eliminate the long phone or chat queues that exist today.
Grading different types of bots
We can grade the bots into 5 categories based on their states and abilities.
B: You send a text to the bot and its replies back. The bot does not store any information about you.
B+: They can persist some amount of information about you. E.g. name, ID, phone number etc. These bots then can help you choose from a menu of options akin to a telephone voice-calling system.
A-: These bots are more intelligent and can remember previous conversations and prompt user to elicit more questions and render accurate answers.
A: These are the butler bots which are dedicated to you. Not only do they know your preferences but, can also remind you in case something is overlooked.
A+: The future.
Bots can also be divided into two types: Push bots start the interaction with you, whereas pull bots require you to begin the conversation.
There are many bots that exist today, and they are used for many different purposes from simple conversation to organizing a year’s worth of documents.
Take Cleverbot for example. It has an AI interface that is trained to recognize what a human being is trying to say and then respond in the appropriate manner. Cleverbot communicates with many humans at the same time and analyses the various responses to come up with a suitable reply, with mixed results.
Cleverbot offer banter and entertainment. It is simply a way to pass the time, but there are also bots which can perform actions.
Google uses bots to find relevant articles and information that the user has searched for. The bot also offers you suggestions to help you get what you want as soon as possible. Google’s bot is a webcrawler as it scours the internet to find and update search results.
There are bots on Twitter that have been programmed to automatically respond to users with a certain reply. There are bots that correct spellings, dispel popular myths or simply converse with. Twitterbots might give you sports scores or random GIFs which, albeit amusing, probably do not help you in your field of work.
The bots at Slack are geared towards work. The Slackbots can store data and save so you can access it at a later date. Slack can also integrate with other web-tools such as Dropbox and Trello to make it easy to communicate between channels. Emails are a thing of old.
These work-oriented Slackbots are both push and pull. The advantages of pull-type bots is that you only call them up when necessary. They help drown out irrelevant topics that might distract you from work.
Apple’s Siri is a bot that does both work and play. It can hold a conversation as well as mark important dates and set alarms on your devices. You can find directions to a location, and also have Siri play a song along the way.
Some bots even use algorithms to predict sports scores and solve math problems.
Just think about the nearly infinite amount of things that bots could do. The possibilities are endless.
Technology behind bots
Bots are written scripts. Some are more useful than others, depending on the functions that they have to perform. The programmers who develop bot scripts are called scripters and the process is called botting.
Most bots are written in AIML or Artificial Intelligence Markup Language. At the front end, the Application Programming Interface (API) of the bots is built to specify how the software components should interact with each other. Embedding powerful Algorithms or an uploadable/downloadable knowledge base on the back end is equally important. There are also Avatars which can help reduce the amount of programming and voice or speech synthesizers. You can also choose some of the popular DIY tools like chatbot.io
The forecast for the future is ‘bots, bots and more bots’. Automated technology is ever increasing in popularity with the only real demerit being the concerns over security breaches.
Humans just cannot compete with these machines, and one worry is that these bots will steal jobs which previously belonged to humans. However, this has happened since the dawn of time.
Writing got replaced by the typewriter, which in turn got replaced by keyboards. The hard copy of a newspaper has been rendered obsolete in many first-world countries because of the rise of news coverage on TV and the internet. Sites such as Facebook, Reddit and Twitter have now become some of the go-to news sites. There are also bots which can write the news by themselves, eliminating the need for manual writing!
The point is that even though significant things have happened to our world over the past 30-odd years, people have managed to adapt to them. We as human beings will evolve to this rise of the planet of the bots accordingly.
The bots have arrived, and there’s nothing standing in the way of their total global domination.
Jayakumar Radhakrishnan is a practicing SMAC consultant. He has worked with Big Enterprises, Small businesses and Startups and helped formulate their SMAC strategy. He is also the Co-founder of OptiSol Business Solutions, a global provider of SMAC Solutions.