Bots, Bots, Everywhere Bots

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John Bruner, O’Reilly Media, does a nice job in his article Bots: What you need to know of providing a real beginner’s look at what bots are, how they are being deployed, and what role they will play in the near future

Much like Robot from Lost in Space, these bots are ready and able to have conversations with us, answer customer service questions, look up information based on our location, and other AI enabled feats of magic.  But unlike Robot, they don’t have tractor treads for getting around and a glass dome with whirling thingamabobs for a brain.

No, these bots are invisible, but ever-present in tools we are already using.  Slack and What’s App have a veritable army of bots to meet various needs.  Siri and Cortana are super bots.

Bots use artificial intelligence to converse in human terms, usually through a lightweight messaging interface like Slack or Facebook Messenger, or a voice interface like Amazon Echo or Google Assistant.

Bruner points to three use cases that bots may have a significant impact on: Customer Relationship Management, Productivity, and Publishing and Entertainment.

To those, I would add workplace learning (well any learning, I blog about workplace).  A bot could be created to help employees find the right resource in a curated library.  Another could be programmed to understand the process and activities of an onboarding program to help keep new employees on track and help them find important resources and people.

There are numerous tools designed to make building bots easy.

Microsoft’s Clippy was born in 2003.

Bots can be the ultimate guide on the side.  Always waiting for that moment to cheerfully chime in.  Hard to believe that the natural language conversational bots of today owe their heritage to Microsoft’s Clippy.

Hopefully, none of today’s bots will be as annoying as Clippy was!

What do you think?  Are Learning Bots part of our future?  Where would you deploy bots in your learning ecosystems?  What potential efficiencies do imagine they could drive?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.  And don’t forget to share this post, if you found it helpful.

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