Fast forward almost 20 years, and now chat Bots are once again coming with a bang, this time with an improved value proposition (almost) real-time native language communications and information. What's a Facebook Chat Bot? Digital Insights research, based in Indonesia, Honduras, and Palestine highlighted the rising popularity of Facebook and FB Messenger among the indigenous communities where DAI and similar development implementers usually work. It's no secret that people value the convenience offered by Chat Bots. This value was crystallized during a dialogue between the creators of Facebook Chat and the members of its primary target market – the youth.
"A lot of what we're seeing coming out of Facebook is very evident in Facebook chat bots," one Facebook Messenger Bot user said in a feedback thread. "I think we can talk about a few different topics here. The first step is for Facebook to open up more to the developer community and show them the vision for the future, step 1 is to give developers tools to create new applications and markets, the second step is to provide developers with data resources so they can start creating new applications and markets, and the third step is to open up their APIs to help others. And this is a three-step process".
When one looks at the available technologies for conversational artificial intelligence, three major directions can be discerned. These directions are via web technologies such as Java, Flash, or Silverlight, via technologies that are more accessible to end-users (e.g., Java Beans, XML, HTTP), or through technologies which are more accessible to internet bot developers (e.g., Facebook's own artificially intelligent chatbot, such as the one at Facebook Messenger). Although it is easy to imagine the fourth direction, it's not yet available. So, from Facebook's point of view, they seem to have decided on two options.
In order to facilitate the development of conversation, chatbot technology will most likely need to provide some support for multimedia. Currently, however, the only readily available software solution is Silverlight. However, many people will be looking for something simpler and easier to use. For these reasons, chatbot developers will be looking for technologies that will allow developers to create a visual interface for the bot, as well as support for basic image and video. In fact, several of these applications already exist within the larger field of Silverlight.
Therefore, what can these Bot interfaces look like? For example, a ski condo is a great bot interaction model because it is highly customizable. In order to create the ski condo, all that is required is the ability to block off a large area of the conversation. Once the area has been blocked off, the user can simply sit back and allow the bot to go ahead and take care of the conversation. Even once the ski condo has been created, the Bot can be easily programmed to handle things like blocking out unsolicited messages or responding to certain commands.
Another area where conversational Bots are likely to find their place is within the larger social media landscape. Since Messenger is the largest system of this type on the Internet, many companies have decided to leverage the chatbot technology in order to develop and maintain conversations within the Messenger system. In effect, Facebook will be providing users with an even better channel through which to communicate with their friends. This is likely to result in increased lead generation opportunities as well as a greater ability for businesses to promote themselves to their current customers as well as to drive new customers to their websites. Since Messenger is already a very popular application, the additional leverage that Bot has in this setting may be well worth the effort.
Finally, the Bot can also be utilized as a means of complementing the existing efforts of Facebook's other social media outlets. Many people rely on Facebook to keep up with their friends and family, so the opportunity to manage a chatbot through the Facebook interface could be quite a lucrative one. In fact, many people believe that a bot can be a great addition to any of the social media platforms because it eliminates the need for humans to moderate the conversations. Humans are naturally fallible and can make errors when dealing with thousands of conversations occurring at once. A bot, by contrast, can respond more quickly and may be more willing to correct errors than a human could be.
The final step to developing your Facebook Chatbot is to program it to perform specific tasks. The easiest way to do this is through the use of an instructional video tutorial that walks you through the basic steps required to set up your bot and to program it to take specific actions. It's always a good idea to look for a tutorial that shows you step-by-step how to install the bot as well as an explanation of the various commands it can execute. The more specific your bot is, the easier it will be for users to utilize it. The Facebook Chatbot has the potential to make lots of money if it becomes popular enough and if it is used correctly.