But Marsbot is important for other reasons, too. She represents a different kind of bot than the ones you see in Facebook Messenger — one that’s proactive rather than passive. She’s not a chatbot, but an interruptive bot. Crowley says that most other bots are in the model of Aladdin’s lamp: you invoke them and the genie appears. Marsbot is more in the Jiminy Cricket mode, hanging over your shoulder and chiming in when needed.
I’ve been testing out Marsbot the last few days, and I’m seriously impressed. I’ve been using the Ozlo bot for my random food suggestions based on location, time, preferences etc… and I’ve been happy with Ozlo.
However, Marsbot has something unique going on… it’s not a bot that waits for you. Rather, it’s proactive. If you’ve seen Her, you know immediately what I’m talking about.
Plus, it’s based on Foursquare’s accumulated data over the years, which is immense. Plus, it works in your text messaging app (iMessage if on Apple) where you’re used to getting personal updates or messages rather than going into another app on your device.
The bot era has officially begun. In a widely expected move, Facebook today announced tools for developers to build bots inside Facebook Messenger, bringing a range of new functions to the popular communication app. Facebook believes Messenger can become a primary channel for businesses to interact with their customers, replacing 1-800 numbers with a mix of artificial intelligence and human intervention. If they are embraced by the general public — which is still far from certain — bots could represent a major new channel for commerce, customer support, and possibly even media.
Now, when you tap the More button in Messenger for iOS or Android, you’ll see Dropbox as an available source. With the Dropbox app installed on your phone, you can share any file in your Dropbox without having to leave the Messenger app.
“Is everything going to become a bot? I don’t think so. There’ll probably still be static apps for professional and authoring tools; Photoshop and CAD and Excel and Evernote aren’t going away; and video games will still be video games. Most of the squishy stuff in the middle, though, will go conversational. Anything that involves collaboration, communications, consumption, organization, etc. will probably become a bot. I think bots will replace 80% of what we use at work and half of what we use at home.”
As I’ve said before, it’s time for social organizations (churches, nonprofits, some businesses) to think through what the coming years of tech will bring… and one of the major revisions we’re going to see is the way we interact with tech. Messaging bots will be the driving force behind that.
When I use “messaging” and “bots,” I’m not referring to what we consider tools such as Facebook Messenger or Slack now. I’m also referring to interactions such as the voice driven Amazon Echo (or Siri, Google Now, Microsoft’s Cortana etc). Bots will interact seamlessly with our lives from our music selections to our banking to the status of our HVAC home systems. Here’s a good rundown on bots from Re/Code.
There was a time when we thought software keyboards (such as on the now ubiquitous iPhone) would “never catch on.” The same with laptops. And a computer mouse. And color screens. And computers in your home. And punch cards.
Voice, gesture, and messaging bots will be the norm. Just as if you walk into our home now, the primary way to start playing music involves the salutation “Alexa,” followed by what you’d like to hear, rather than our previous practice just a few short months ago of having to go over to a computer keyboard and type in a search. It happened seamlessly and Amazon’s Echo, along with Siri, is just a sign of what’s to come.
Will everything we do with / on computers be taken over by bots and messaging? Of course not. To paraphrase Steve Jobs, some people need trucks but most everyone can get by with a car. You probably don’t launch Photoshop or complicated accounting software that often. If you do, don’t worry.
The point is, the way we interact with all of this tech we surround ourselves with is about to dramatically change. Think ahead for what that means for your business, church, group, and workflow.