Bots: The Good, Bad, and the Entertaining

December 13, 2019

Bots are software applications programmed to perform automated and repetitive tasks. These bots typically perform these tasks much quicker than a human could, making them a great business contribution for the sake of efficiency. There are different types of bots though, some more helpful than others, and some that just provide some entertainment.

The Good

Chatbots are one of the most common bots we interact with. Many of us use them daily, even if we don’t realize it. Chatbots are commonly used for e-commerce and can help customers do simple tasks such as look up an order or find store hours. These bots give programmed responses to certain keywords and phrases. Some are even programmed to have a little more personality than others. If you’ve ever asked Siri what the meaning of life is, you might be amused by the response.

Web crawlers are also a good type of bot, since they scan the internet and determine Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You are most likely familiar with Google and how they use these crawlers to decide which search results are the most relevant and reliable for the user. Web crawlers are able to scan 100’s of web sites in a matter of seconds, following all or their links and indexing significant words.

The Bad

Malicious bots are the ones that are commonly referenced when the word “bot” comes up, giving the entire technology a bad rap. These bots often carry viruses and are programmed to hack into accounts for personal information. Typically, they run scans for passwords and often seek financial information. Unfortunately, they can also be difficult to locate since these bots will disguise as files or programs that look and behave just like regular ones.

The Entertaining

Some bots are just for fun! These social bots are most popular on Twitter. These also perform singular tasks, but without any significant purpose other than entertainment. For example, on Twitter there is a bot that posts random images from the Museum of Modern Art archives, so you can see a new piece of art every day! Twitter, however, has made the process to create social bots much more complicated, attempting to subside malicious ones. This has caused many of these beloved accounts to disappear, since their creators don’t want to go through the application process.

Want to Build Your Own?

Fortunately, if you’re interested in creating your own chatbot, there are plenty of simple, and inexpensive options out there. These options, called non-programming chatbot builders, are generally for simple bots, and not those with Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities. If you would like a more complex chatbot, you will need some coding expertise, but there are plenty of platforms to help you build it.

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