Rise of the Chatbot

The Turing test is a test for the ability of a machine to replicate human behaviour. The most common form of this test is whether a computer program can mimic human conversation in a way that would cause a person communicating with it to believe they are talking with a person. Currently many people work on such chatbots for various reasons. Already many primitive chatbots are deployed to social networks for different political and economic agendas.

Social networks are currently doing well and look to expand further but I believe that AI chatbots will prove to be a disruptive technology for them. An AI chatbot that is sufficiently advanced can be deployed in the hundreds and dominate online conversations. Open forums like reddit will be swamped by the deployment of countless chatbots.

Today the fight against chatbots is done through what is essentially a reverse Turing test in which things like captcha are used to prevent bots from using the social network. I feel that a sufficiently advanced chatbot changes the economics enough that this is no longer going to be sufficient. Employing one person to post on a social network is expensive for a low potential return. Employing one person to pass reverse Turing tests for 100 bots that proceed to post a specified opinion every minute is far more significant.

I feel the idea that you could just be speaking to a bot will start to affect user engagement. It would be difficult for people to consider their conversations to be meaningful if they believe they are often speaking with bots that had a predetermined agenda. People don't like to believe that they are constantly being influenced. Eventually these social networks may turn into arenas in which bots fighting each other before the lack of advertising engagement causes the social network to be shutdown.

Possibly this is for the best as social network have recently come under significant criticism for the deleterious impact it has on society. Maybe this will be the start of new and better social network mechanisms or at least the end of the negative ones. Whether this will breed future developments or not, the fact remains that the bots are coming.