Pop-culture references to Skynet and a forthcoming “war against the machines” are perhaps a little too common in articles about AI (including this one and Larry’s post about Google’s RankBrain tech), but they do raise somewhat uncomfortable questions about the unexpected side of developing increasingly sophisticated AI constructs – including seemingly harmless chatbots.
Earlier, I made a rather lazy joke with a reference to the Terminator movie franchise, in which an artificial intelligence system known as Skynet becomes self-aware and identifies the human race as the greatest threat to its own survival, triggering a global nuclear war by preemptively launching the missiles under its command at cities around the world. (If by some miracle you haven’t seen any of the Terminator movies, the first two are excellent but I’d strongly advise steering clear of later entries in the franchise.)

At Facebook’s F8 Developers Conference, Messenger Bots were announced. These bots are being developed by media corporations and retailers alike and very quickly so which raises the question as to what a Messenger bot is and how it’s useful to so many different types of companies. Even more important to know is what these bots mean for the average user, whether or not they will always be safe or can they present a potential threat if they are developed by anyone with malicious intent. Here’s a the answer to all that and more.