The evolution of artificial intelligence is now in full swing and chatbots are only a faint splash on a huge wave of progress. Today the number of users of messaging apps like WhatsApp, Slack, Skype and their analogs is skyrocketing, Facebook Messenger alone has more than 1.2 billion monthly users. With the spread of messengers, virtual chatterbots that imitate human conversations for solving various tasks are becoming increasingly in demand. Chinese WeChat bots can already set medical appointments, call a taxi, send money to friends, check in for a flight and many many other.

The bot (which also offers users the opportunity to chat with your friendly neighborhood Spiderman) isn’t a true conversational agent, in the sense that the bot’s responses are currently a little limited; this isn’t a truly “freestyle” chatbot. For example, in the conversation above, the bot didn’t recognize the reply as a valid response – kind of a bummer if you’re hoping for an immersive experience.

Despite the fact that ALICE relies on such an old codebase, the bot offers users a remarkably accurate conversational experience. Of course, no bot is perfect, especially one that’s old enough to legally drink in the U.S. if only it had a physical form. ALICE, like many contemporary bots, struggles with the nuances of some questions and returns a mixture of inadvertently postmodern answers and statements that suggest ALICE has greater self-awareness for which we might give the agent credit.
Insidiously and persistently, Facebook is chipping away at other messaging platforms and moving their users to Facebook Messenger. If they keep it up, by the end of 2017 there will be as many people on Messenger (currently 900 million) as Facebook (1.674 billion). But, counterintuitive as that strategy seems (why bifurcate resources on two fronts) that is all part of Mark Zuckerberg’s avec nous le deluge.
Yes. Messenger bots are approved by Facebook before being made available inside the Messenger app so you can rest assured that they aren’t trying to steal your identity (or anything else). What’s more is a bot is tied to a Facebook page and a Facebook app making it all the more inconvenient to use for fraudulent activity. That said, don’t exchange private and/or personal information with a bot. Finally, because Messenger doesn’t support credit cards and purchasing just yet, anything you buy will likely be done via a browser with a bot aiding you so far as to place an order. If you want, you can always block a bot.
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