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Artificial Intelligence: 2016 Shaping up to be the “Year of the Bot”

By Dick Weisinger

Software robots, also known simply as ‘bots’ are suddenly coming at us from everywhere.  And it may just be the beginning.  Bots are software agents that are able to automate and speed the completion of tasks.  Wikipedia describes bots as software components designed to “perform tasks that are both simple and structurally repetitive, at a much higher rate than would be possible for a human alone.”

Web bots that scour the internet for building updates to the search index of search engines like for Google and Bing have been around for some time.  But as computing hardware capabilities continually advance and as voice-assistant technologies like Siri, Cortana, Google Now and Amazon Echo improve, bots are becoming more sophisticated in what they can do and how they can help us.

David Parry, Manager at HP Innovation, told CNNMoney that “[Eventually, bots will be] able to handle very administrative tasks in a very easy way — reservations, hotels, banking — as AI is able to anticipate needs and proactively talk to you, it’ll get more exciting.”

Steven Milunovich, UBS analyst, said that “In China, WeChat provides high functionality, such as paying bills, hailing a cab and checking into flights through apps within apps. ”

Both Microsoft and Facebook have recently launched bot initiatives.  Both companies have introduced developer tools to help build bots that will run on their platforms.  Facebook has a bot platform available for its Messenger product.

Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, said that “Bots are the new apps.  An AI assistant will be a personal digital assistant that knows you, knows your world and is always with you across all your devices”.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, said that “No one wants to have to install a new app for every business or service they want to interact with.  We think you should be able to just message a business in the same way you message a friend.”



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