A bot is a computer program developed to mimic human behavior. If the purpose of these applications is to offer a service through a conversation with the user, they are called conversational bots or chatbots, an increasingly popular term in social networks and, especially, in instant messaging apps.
The challenge is to provide these programs with a sophisticated artificial intelligence that allows them to learn from the behavior of their interlocutor. In such a way as to facilitate an online service (for example, ordering food at home, buying any product, solving doubts, weather updates or booking an appointment in an establishment) or simply hold a conversation as if someone on the other side were flesh and blood.
The bot has its disadvantages, as in the case of Tay, a chatbot created by Microsoft to chat on Twitter with young people between 18 and 24 years, and had to be withdrawn because it “learned” to write racist messages. But leaving aside this failed launch, the truth is that there are more and more platforms that enable the use of artificial intelligence driven chatbots. There is already a great world of chatbots driven by artificial intelligence designed for messaging apps like Kik, Telegram and Facebook Messenger.
The concept of Artificial Intelligence for Bots
Bots exhibit some facets of human intelligence. But how? Where does that intelligence come from? That gets us to Machine Learning and Deep Learning.
In recent years, artificial intelligence has undoubtedly progressed in its ability to integrate data and be able to use it autonomously and appropriately. Thus the term Machine Learning quickly broke into both the digital and the communication industries. Machine Learning consists of the creation of an algorithm capable of enriching its knowledge on a given function from data that it collects and of establishing correlations and recurrences much more quickly and finely than human neurons could do.
With Machine Learning, instead of coding software or building a bot from scratch with a specific set of instructions to accomplish a particular task, the bot is “trained” using large amounts of data and algorithms to learn how to perform the task. This simply implies that the bot is trained and equipped with artificial intelligence to carry out a task.
Machine Learning originated from the early AI scientists, and the approach to algorithm over the years with Machine Learning involves decision tree learning, reinforcement learning, inductive programming clustering, and Bayesian network, etc.
To this first concept was added a second dimension of artificial intelligence known as Deep Learning. What makes Deep Learning different from traditional Machine Learning methods is that it can analyze complex data. In other words, the algorithm will be able to differentiate between a picture of a boat and a picture of an aircraft or interpret the general feeling of comments posted by consumers on an e-commerce site.
Deep Learning is a technique for implementing Machine Learning. It has made the practical applications of Machine Learning and the overall field of Artificial Intelligence possible. Deep Learning helps to break down tasks to make different kinds of machine assists appear possible.
Artificial intelligence is the present and the future, and it has provided bots with technologies that can perform specific tasks as well as, or better than, we humans can.
Some examples of artificial intelligence driven bots are discussed below.
Kik is highly recommended to start experimenting with chatbots, as it integrates with the app itself a bot store that makes things much easier. If you want to check it out, download Kik for iOS or Android and just open it, then click on the magnifying glass that appears on the first screen. You will immediately see a Bot Shop icon, which will take you to the store with various chatbots classified into three categories: Entertainment, Lifestyle, and Videogames.
Just choose the bot you want, and you will have everything ready to start interacting with it. The operation is very intuitive, and the bot itself guides you as a virtual assistant so that you know what you have to do.
To give you an idea of what you will find with the Vine chatbot for Kik, you can get videos made with that app that relates to the word you write. The H & M offers you combinations to create a tailor made set from a particular garment, the Weather Channel sends you the weather forecast, and Wirkn Jobs helps you find a job.
Furthermore, more advanced users can create their bots for Kik in the developer section.
Despite their signature mark on the bots, Telegram does not have an official store where to find them. In fact, from its menu of frequently asked questions, the company encourages its users to “ask friends or search the Web” to locate bots. To make it easier, follow these steps:
First, you have to know the name of the chatbot, which will be a word preceded by a “@.” To do this, you can search for the one that interests you in different Internet pages or, directly, in Botlist, a shop created by third parties in which bots classified by categories appear and by their availability for different platforms.
Once you locate the chatbot, add it to your Telegram contact list as if it were one more person and you’ll have everything ready to start interacting with it.
As with Kik, anyone who wants to create their bot for Telegram can do so, although this requires a basic programming knowledge. Everything is explained on their developers’ page.
One unique thing about the chatbots on Telegram is that all incorporate basic commands that facilitate the conversation and are activated by typing the slash followed by order, that is: / start, / help, / stop … You do not have to know or memorize these commands, but you will find them, with a brief explanation of what each one serves.
Facebook has made a platform for creating chatbots for Messenger available for developers. At the moment, like Telegram, there are no official bot stores for this app, so if you want to find them, you can also go to pages like Botlist to find their names and add them to your Messenger contacts list. Two of the most popular is CNN News Bot, with which you receive news broadcast by this television network, and Hi Poncho, for meteorological consultations.
The idea of Facebook is that companies create all kinds of chatbots to improve and facilitate their customer care services from Messenger. If you do, you will soon be able to communicate with any business, to perform different functions, just as you chat with your friends. Although on the other side of Messenger, though it does not seem like it, a bot will attend you.