Future of Bots — Vague but Exciting…
“Vague but exciting…”
These were the words spoken by Tim Berners-Lee’s manager at CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research) when he presented a concept proposal for the World Wide Web.
Though the scientists at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) were the earliest to think of the internet in 1969, it was not until Tim Berners-Lee wrote the concept of a free and open internet in 1990, that the magical possibilities of the WWW were brought to the fore. From tentative beginnings, the revolutionary internet came into fruition by the early 90s. With this (seemingly-magical) information superhighway coupled with powerful PCs and mobile devices, we are able to access a deluge of information anywhere anytime with just a browser. Cloud computing has taken us by storm, beating out the fears of privacy and security.
Now, 25 years later, a similar invasion has crept upon us now: the bot attack.
So what is a bot?
A bot is a software application that runs automated tasks, also known as scripts, over the internet. They are programs which are developed to perform a particular process.
Bots are usually used to execute tasks that are simple yet repetitive. They lift the burden from a human, and actually finish the task quicker than humanly possible.
Functions of the Bot Army
Bots act as virtual assistants, performing various functions designated to them often acting like a genie to an Aladdin, granting our wishes.
There are an influx of bots all over the internet. Bots can get news, integrate with other apps, create social services, build games, develop tools and lots of other services.
Chatbots such as Siri and Cortana are very popular ways for getting information quickly. You can book cabs, set reminders for future events, set up a hotel / restaurant reservation, launch applications, play music, book tickets to events, quickly look up sports scores, the weather, current affairs or random cat videos on YouTube.
The Slackbot on Slack is more business-oriented. It can be utilised to store, organize and find data related to your company. It also integrates with other business tools such as DropBox and Trello and recognizes when changes are made, allowing for easy flow of communication. Messages are sent to the bot and the information is relayed to the bot servers.
Bots In Action:
How will bots work in an enterprise? Just take a look at the following example to see how bots can be implemented in real-world scenarios:
Jane, a businesswoman living in San Francisco, California, wants to go to a Tech Expo in New York City, New York. Jane enters the expo dates on her Event, Google or Outlook calendar. The bot army then takes over.
Now that she’s got a ticket to the event, she should get tickets travelling from San Francisco to New York City. She now goes to her TravelBot for help:
Now that that’s done, all she needs is a place to stay. Her Hotel Bot can help with that:
So just like that, Jane’s ready to go.
Guess what? The above scenario isn’t science-fiction anymore. It is already a reality that we could not have fathomed even five years ago.
I’m no time-traveller, but I foresee the future as being bots, bots and more bots. They are just more adept for certain tasks than humans are.
The cost of developing bots varies depending on what you want them to perform. Some simple bots can be built for free, while others might need someone experienced to verify that they work. They can either be developed from scratch or with altered code from a similar bot.
Just like the internet before, the bots have disrupted our work, home and social lives, but is it all for the best?
Bots: Mate or Menace?
Bots will almost certainly run our future enterprise. The cause for concern regarding bots is when they start taking jobs which human beings were previously required to do.
Some people are skeptical over whether we should put all our eggs in one basket and relying too much on bots is not a good thing. Over-dependence on bots might cause us to become lazy as a society.
Also, trusting bots with too much personal information could prove dangerous in the long run if the bot gets hacked and our information is compromised.
Some bots may become infected with viruses or bugs, but these are simple fixes and over time, the bots will be able to recognize the problem and fix themselves. They will familiarize themselves with the problem and evolve to become resistant to it, similar to how insects adapt so certain insecticides don’t affect them anymore.
People had thought similar things when computers were first introduced, but the fact is that computers have actually created many jobs, especially in the IT sector.
We should embrace this new development instead of shunning it. The genie is out of the bottle now and there is little doubt that bots will only continue to increase hundredfold in their usage and intelligence.
Add all of this up and it’s clear that bots are the next big thing. The bot takeover is not too far away. Brace yourself, the bots are coming!
Jayakumar Radhakrishnan is a practicing SMAC consultant. He has worked with Big Enterprises, Small businesses and Startups and helped formulate their SMAC strategy. He is also the Co-founder of OptiSol Business Solutions, a global provider of SMAC Solutions.