The Evolution of Bots
Bots are software applications designed to perform simple, structurally repetitive tasks faster than humans. These software “robots” are automated processes that interact with other network services. While bots can be deployed for malicious and destructive means, most bots are helpful, not harmful, and are critical for unleashing the full capabilities of the Internet.
Humble Beginnings but a Rapid Evolution
Bots began quite simply but have quickly evolved to fill more and more roles as developers and thought-leaders have come to understand their potential. Early bots provided the most basic automated services in applications seeing small, slow technological gains. Then, bot evolution hit a major stride when bots were used to “crawl” the Internet as the first known search engines indexed sites to help direct people towards the information they were looking for.
Bots shaped the Internet as we know it today by doing what millions of librarians and card catalogues could never have done or MAINTAINED.
Bots continually read or “crawl” the Internet to quickly find and catalog information. In fact, bots have become so ubiquitous that approximately half of all Internet traffic is attributed to bots.
Bots: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Of course, as the good guys realized the nearly unlimited potential of bots, the bad guys also saw nefarious possibilities for criminal enterprise. Cyber criminals and hackers have shaped bot tech to their favor using bots maliciously for everything from Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks to malware bots, to spambots, to cheatbots and more.
A malicious bot is often self-propagating malware, created to infect a host and connect to a central server (or servers). They then act as a command and control center for an entire network of compromised devices, or "botnets”. This allows cyber criminals to be able to launch broad-based, flood-type attacks on their intended targets.
Malicious bots can log keystrokes, collect passwords, capture and analyze data packets, harvest sensitive financial data, launch DDoS attacks, and worse. Like the good bots, bad bots have become a regular feature in the technological landscape.
From a business perspective, we must be keenly aware of both good and bad bots. We need to be knowledgeable regarding how bad bots operate, and keep our eye on how they continually evolve to add challenges to our operations. However, we shouldn’t forget that it is the good bots that offer the opportunity to use ground-breaking technology to revolutionize not only our own businesses but entire industries.
Siri, Alexa & the First Wave of Digital Assistant Bots
While they may have begun by performing simple tasks, bots have become increasingly complex. Bots that many of us are familiar with, like Siri and Alexa, have become intelligent enough to communicate much like a human would. They have become so integrated into our daily lives that we no longer even recognize their near-constant presence.
Of course, these bots are programming and not consciousness, but humans are getting better and better at codifying language, writing and other uniquely-human things. We then “teach” machines so that they can go through steps to closely mimic our own processes.
These human-like interactions and capabilities hold amazing potential for business streamlining and growth. As we look for new ways to both innovate and compete in a rapidly-evolving marketplace, machine-learning and artificial intelligence are constantly evolving and progressing.
Voice Search to Home Automation to Brand Adoption
Before long, voice search technology was paired with the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, to both answer questions and run your home automation. Boom, just like that a new market category, the Internet of Things, was born.
it didn’t take companies long to see the service potential in this emerging technology for their own businesses.
2016 saw Facebook announce the integration of bots into its messenger platform, potentially providing elements such as automated subscription content, customized communications, live automated messaging, shopbots, and more.
The Brand-Savvy Virtual
Customer Service Agent
Many companies quickly saw the potential bots held for automating customer service through virtual agent services and chatbots. Text and voice channels could dramatically eliminate wait times and increase operational hours with no downtime.
By assuring a consistency of responses, the overall quality of service likewise improves. Using the if this/then that (IFTTT) process, chatbots can simulate human conversation and create customized messages that both align with your brand and adeptly respond.
From a “let me help you find what you are looking for” to a “thank you for your purchase, wear it well and please come back when we can help you again,” chatbots can be customized to assist your customers wherever they are in the buying cycle.
The Writing Is on the Wall
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and bot tech are now even being used to create product copy, a task that is currently human-driven. Programs, such as AI Copywriter from Alibaba, are making use of the extensive product data you already have to “learn” your product, “voice”, and branding style to help automate the product copy and product details creative process.
Passing the Turing Test
The AI copywriter recently passed the famous Turing test. The Turing test was developed by Alan Turing in 1950; it is a test of a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. The applications are limitless.
Think about fast fashion for example. Need to get 200 new products to each of your online and/or brick and mortar locations quickly? An AI/bot tool that can use your existing work product to rapidly develop brand-aligned product descriptions and ad copy to help you compete and even dominate your market(s).
Just Getting Started
Already, the possibilities for business are incredible, but this is technology that is growing exponentially. One tech jump opens hundreds of doors in terms of applications. For example, the enormous, affordable storage capacity of the cloud has allowed previously unheard of storage of large data sets.
This might not sound all that exciting to the average person until you learn that these large data sets, like Google’s Open Image, are being used to train deep learning neural networks. This learning is allowing computers to detect deformed fruit on a conveyer belt, detect insurance fraud via phone conversation by analyzing the content, vocabulary, and tone of the conversations against previous data. Technology is evolving every day, and with it, the applications for businesses like yours that want to adapt, compete, and dominate in the evolving marketplace.
TechSparq is here to be your innovation Sparq as you navigate the Bot technology landscape.
To find out more about how bots will continue to evolve in the future or how you can make use of bots today, reach out. TechSparq is ready to help.