A Chatbot is a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, specifically over the internet.

Chatbot is also one of those techie terms you never hear until suddenly, one day, you can’t not stop hearing it.

Wait! Is that all a Chatbot is?

If all a chatbot does is enable people to “simulate talking” with computers, isn’t that what H.A.L. did in 2001: A Space Odyssey, a movie that came out in 1968? Does this mean Siri’s ability to provide wrong answers when you ask it questions makes it a chatbot?

Why are people talking about chatbots?

First there was Microsoft’s 3/23/2016 launch of Tay on Twitter. Tay, a chatbot, probably wouldn’t have been such a big deal had she not started providing racist tweets after some Twitter users figured out how to lead Tay astray.

But the biggest chatbot news of the month was Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that Facebook users would soon be able to use a Facebook chatbot interface to simulate conversations with third-party apps. Except Facebook’s chatbots will exchange text messages with you—not talk like Siri or Amazon’s Alexa or H.A.L. Facebook’s chatbots will also use artificial intelligence so that the more you communicate with them, the more they will know what you like to hear.

And that would be great, wouldn’t it? Just ask Dave.


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