At the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon held between May 7 and 8 in New York City, a chat bot debuted that could potentially change the way we socialize — or don't socialize — with our friends and family. The Chat Bot Club project was one of the many that drew attention at the event, and Creator Irene Chang says the entire initiative was inspired by Facebook Messenger.
Chang was constantly being bombarded by messages from friends and family members on Facebook's instant messaging system. Instead of trying to answer every message, she turned to Cisco Spark and IBM Watson to create a bot that could do the talking for her. With this tool, the bot could learn how Chang spoke and respond accordingly to messages. The Chat Bot learns emojis and common phrases, and it knows how to mimic it all in groups.
Currently, the bot is a work in progress. It was created at TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon over the course of one day, but it isn't quite ready for use yet. However, Chang told TechCrunch that she intends to add APIs, as well as support for services like WeChat, WhatsApp and Kik.
These days, bots are not only used for communicating with friends and family. Businesses turn to bots to share everything from news updates to dinner reservation confirmations. On April 12, Facebook announced the launch of the Messenger Platform, a new place for developers to create Messenger bots and begin connecting with the site's 900 million users.
"Bots for Messenger are for anyone who's trying to reach people on mobile — no matter how big or small your company or idea is, or what problem you're trying to solve," said Facebook Product Manager Seth Rosenberg. "Whether you're building apps or experiences to share weather updates, confirm reservations at a hotel, or send receipts from a recent purchase, bots make it possible for you to be more personal, more proactive, and more streamlined in the way that you interact with people."
Developers can submit their bots for review, and then begin communicating with Facebook users upon approval.
Approximately 11 percent of the world's population uses Facebook Messenger each month. Nearly 87 million U.S. adults utilize the Messenger app.