The Atlantic: Bots Are Destroying Political Discourse As We Know It. “Presidential-campaign season is officially, officially, upon us now, which means it’s time to confront the weird and insidious ways in which technology is warping politics. One of the biggest threats on the horizon: Artificial personas are coming, and they’re poised to take over political debate. The risk arises from two separate threads coming together: artificial-intelligence-driven text generation and social-media chatbots. These computer-generated ‘people’ will drown out actual human discussions on the internet.”
The Next Web: 2020 will mark the death of the chatbot as we know it. “According to recent research, only 9 percent of customers felt that they would be best served by a chatbot for serious enquiries, whereas the figures for a voice call were in excess of 80 percent. But with 80 percent of contact centers wanting to adopt chatbot technology by 2020, what is does this industry know that we don’t? Well, they are seeing the bright and not-so-distant future of this technology, and it doesn’t look like a thing like your average chatbot.”
Fast Company: There’s now a chatbot to give refugees instant legal advice. “For a Syrian refugee in Lebanon who is trying to navigate the legal path to resettlement, it can be difficult to find answers—and overstretched humanitarian organizations can take as long as three months to respond to an email when the demand for help is highest. A new chatbot called Mona, designed for Facebook Messenger and Telegram, can help more quickly.”
The New York Times: Facebook Gives Workers a Chatbot to Appease That Prying Uncle. “Some Facebook employees recently told their managers that they were concerned about answering difficult questions about their workplace from friends and family over the holidays…So just before Thanksgiving, Facebook rolled out something to help its workers: a chatbot that would teach them official company answers for dealing with such thorny questions.” This is so on-brand I laughed out loud.
TechCrunch: Microsoft launches Power Virtual Agents, its no-code bot builder. “Microsoft today announced the public preview of its Power Virtual Agents tool, a new no-code tool for building chatbots that’s part of the company’s Power Platform, which also includes Microsoft Flow automation tool, which is being renamed to Power Automate today, and Power BI.”
Make Tech Easier: How to Build a Chatbot without Coding. “Building truly intelligent chatbots requires the knowledge of something like Python and high-level libraries such as CoreNLP. By the same token, creating dummy ones for simple tasks does not require any coding skills. In fact, by the end of this, you will have learned how to launch your own chatbots on the Web.”
VentureBeat: Some Alexa Prize chatbots exposed customer data, talked filth. “Millions of users of Amazon’s Echo speakers have grown accustomed to the soothing strains of Alexa, the human-sounding virtual assistant that can tell them the weather, order takeout and handle other basic tasks in response to a voice command. So a customer was shocked last year when Alexa blurted out: ‘Kill your foster parents.'”