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October 11, 2016updated 27 Oct 2023 8:13am

What is chatbot?

Machine learning techniques are playing an important role in the development of chatbots.

By James Nunns

A chatbot is a type of computer program that is designed to interact with customers, typically on the Internet, which is capable of simulating conversations with people.

The program is capable of simulating conversation due to it being powered by rules, and sometimes artificial intelligence.

Typically this service is used on the Internet, posing as a help assistant and answering basic questions.

The chatbot hit the headlines in 2016 after companies like Facebook revealed that it would deliver automated customer support through its Messenger service. Microsoft also launched a chatbot, called Tay, but the self learning bot learnt a lot of bad things from Twitter feeds and went on racist rants before being taken offline.

What makes chatbots intelligent?

Chatbots have become increasingly intelligent thanks to developments in machine learning which are able to pick up on conversational cadences and mimic human conversation.

Essentially they work by connecting to numerous sources of data via APIs, it can tap into these sources of data and bring up information on demand, such as customer information or weather forecasts.

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