Bots are nothing new, in many respects. Some of our earliest encounters with them were the quiz bots back on IRC. Likewise, if you’ve ever gone to a help section of a website to ask for help, chances are you were relaying your problems to a bot. However, it seems that recently certain app programmers have seized upon bots as a new way to seamlessly manage the information of their users to provide more streamlined experiences of their products.
While designers don’t expect bots to replace all human activity, however. At some point a problem is just too unique or complicated for a programme to handle on its own, in which case you need to talk to a human. But they do anticipate them to be used to consolidate your apps and reducing the clutter within the dusty back folders of your phone. Chances are even though there’s dozens of programmes on your phone dedicated to gathering information for you, they usually remain untouched in some forgotten page of your app menu.
Having a bot on your main messenger programme could achieve all the same functions as those apps with much less memory space used. Your information will be quietly and discretely collected as you go about your daily, weekly and monthly routine. They could even be used to do certain tasks for you without prompting.
Say, for example, regularly each Saturday over several months you order tickets for a specific cinema at roughly the same time. The bot will note down this information, keep note of the sort of things you like to watch, the times you do it in and the prices you usually go for, and could immediately find you the cheapest booking before you’ve even reached into your pocket for your phone. The same can be done for any routine task, such as ordering food, buying electronic products, or pre-emptively selecting news articles you’d be more interested in reading.
Of course, in order for it to work this well, you’d need to surrender a lot of personal information, and many people aren’t quite ready for such an intrusion into their privacy. Even to a rather innocuous computer programme.
Further some people may not use a bot if it’s too complicated or time consuming to set up. We like things to be quick, simple and minimalist.
There’s also the risk of hacking.
We get enough grief from cold-callers simply from giving our mobile phone numbers to certain websites. Imagine what might happen if a bot containing your personal information was compromised via a remote link? What if your bot also held your bank details, your address, or your home phone number? So some sort of encryption is necessary, further complicating the bots programming.
Bots well may be the future. But, as always, it depends how we see it being implemented on the market. If it’s quick, easy to use, and greatly streamlines our daily doings, then bots could easily be huge.