BotBeat Weekly // Sep 82016

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Bot­Beat Weekly // Sep 82016

News Events Insight
Hi Peter,

We’ll see the first bot IPOs in the next two or three years, Phil Lib­in told me when I vis­ited him recently. Lib­in, of course, is a lead­ing fig­ure in the bots com­munity who joined ven­ture cap­it­al firm Gen­er­al Cata­lyst Part­ners a year ago and already has made five invest­ments in bot com­pan­ies. As an investor, Lib­in is bullish, as you’d expect. But he was also con­scious of the chal­lenges facing the cur­rent bot eco­sys­tem. ““Right now there’s a lot of fart bots,”” he said almost apo­lo­get­ic­ally. ““None of which are meant to be sub­stant­ive. They’re there because developers want to see what it’s like to write one and ask: What does it feel like? What are the ana­lyt­ics that I can get? How many people will dis­cov­er it? You’re not sup­posed to take them ser­i­ously.””

Lib­in was speak­ing about the rel­at­ively trivi­al bots that do things like order pizza, check the weather, or send flowers. In his view, bot star­tups need to sat­is­fy three cri­ter­ia in order to have a chance at becom­ing a viable, inde­pend­ent com­pany:
1. A company’s bot (or bots) must solve a real prob­lem, not a man­u­fac­tured one.
2. The bot can­not be just an app replace­ment.
3. The bot should help mul­tiple people have a con­ver­sa­tion among them­selves, with the bot provid­ing func­tion­al­ity and struc­ture in-line to that con­ver­sa­tion.

The first two cri­ter­ia elim­in­ate per­haps 99 per­cent of bots today, Lib­in estim­ates. And while there are too many vari­ables for a star­tup seek­ing fund­ing, and then build­ing a sus­tain­able, prof­it­able busi­ness (let alone going pub­lic), Libin’s cri­ter­ia are clearly a good place to start when think­ing about the value being cre­ated by bots. Our full inter­view with Lib­in is avail­able here.

Thanks to every­one who has vis­ited our revamped Bots Chan­nel and sent us feed­back. We con­tin­ue to make improve­ments, so please keep the sug­ges­tions com­ing via email. And as always, please share your ideas for guest posts with John Brandon, and send story tips to Khari John­son.

– Blaise Zerega
Edit­or in Chief

P.S. We hope you enjoy this video of Robert ““The Bot­father”” Hof­fer as he argues that bots need per­son­al­ity and soul.

The big­ger implic­a­tions of Apple’s machine learn­ing tech­no­logy
GUEST: Today, all eyes are on Apple. Long hailed as a lead­er in tech­no­logy, we’ve seen many inter­est­ing devel­op­ments come out of the Cuper­tino office, espe­cially today with the news about the new iPhone 7. Though there are plenty of new updates and products, there’s also the ques­tion of what goes on behind the scenes to […]

Read the full story
5 chat­bot stats that reveal what users want
GUEST: We at recently sur­passed 32 mil­lion mes­sages pro­cessed! Given three months worth of data pro­cessed, we wanted to high­light some inter­est­ing find­ings. (The stats below are based on Face­book Mes­sen­ger bots only.) 1. Ses­sions The aver­age mes­sages per ses­sion and time per ses­sion across all bots jumped quite a bit from June to July and appears […]

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Cis­co doesn’t want Spark to be like Slack. Here’s why
Joseph Fu is part of a team at Cis­co build­ing Spark, an enter­prise mes­sen­ger app that seeks to over­take the likes of Yam­mer, Skype, Hipchat, and even­tu­ally, to dethrone Slack from its early lead­er­ship pos­i­tion. In less than two years, Slack has gone from a little-known gam­ing chat com­pany to an enter­prise darling val­ued at $3.8 bil­lion […]

Read the full story
Facebook’s Seth Rosen­berg on bots, busi­ness, and the future of Mes­sen­ger
With all the chat­ter and hype that sur­round bots, arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, and con­ver­sa­tion­al com­mer­ce, it can be hard to remem­ber that there’s very little per­col­at­ing today on chat plat­forms (with their bil­lions of users) that didn’t exist a year ago. Since CEO Mark Zuck­er­berg announced that Face­book would open its plat­form to bot makers, busi­nesses, and […]

Read the full story
2 big reas­ons Face­book Mes­sen­ger is the wrong plat­form for chat­bots
GUEST: While chat­bots have been around since the early 90’s, this year they became com­pletely syn­onym­ous with Face­book Mes­sen­ger. Face­book brought auto­mated, chat-based cus­tom­er ser­vice into the main­stream at a time when busi­nesses and buy­ers are obsessed with improv­ing the cus­tom­er exper­i­ence. This tech­no­logy will be trans­form­at­ive. It’s part of a wave of innov­a­tions that is […]

Read the full story
Chat­bots are a cre­ation chan­nel for storytelling
GUEST: I worked at Beta­works this past sum­mer. Pur­su­ing an oppor­tun­ity to work there was prob­ably one of the best decisions I have ever made. The exper­i­ences were invalu­able, and I have already doc­u­mented two of the major les­sons I picked up (Per­mis­sion vs Advice and Influ­ence vs Author­ity). A high­light of the sum­mer was get­ting to work on the bot­camp pro­gram at Beta­works. My […]

Read the full story

How Tech Giants Are Devis­ing Real Eth­ics for Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence
For years, sci­ence-fic­tion movie­makers have been mak­ing us fear the bad things that arti­fi­cially intel­li­gent machines might do to their human cre­at­ors. But for the next dec­ade or two, our biggest con­cern is more likely to be that robots will take away our jobs or bump into us on the high­way. (via NYTimes)

Read the full story

What The Guard­i­an has learned from chat­bots
For the past two months, the Guard­i­an has been test­ing a Face­book Mes­sen­ger bot, Sous-chef,” that provides recipe sug­ges­tions to people based on what they had in their fridges. Now, it’s using the learn­ings to shape its main news bot, which launched a week ago. (via DIGIDAY)

Read the full story

Microsoft is put­ting Cort­ana machine learn­ing in a fridge
Microsoft is work­ing with Liebherr’s appli­ance divi­sion to rebuild the refri­ger­at­or and make it smarter, faster, strong; well, may­be just smarter. The new col­lab­or­a­tion between the two will see Microsoft provide com­puter vis­ion tech­no­logy, via its Microsoft Cog­nit­ive Ser­vices Com­puter Vis­ion API, to let the fridge identi­fy objects con­tained with­in. (via Tech­Crunch)