Giving social bots the wheel

Logging on to my social media, I once again found myself receiving messages from a number of friendly, but suspicious profiles.

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Giving social bots the wheel Alexander Sophoclis Pieri, editor of Arabian Computer news.
By  Alexander Sophoclis Pieri Published  October 6, 2016

Logging on to my social media, I once again found myself receiving messages from a number of friendly, but suspicious profiles. While the annoyance of bots is hardly new in this day and age, it did get me thinking on whether or not there are practical, maybe even business uses, for such programs.

First off, for those who aren’t aware of the definition of bots, they are a type of software application that runs automated algorithms over the internet.

Social media bots in particular can be quite complex in their design, mimicking human behaviour and interaction, almost perfectly.

Over the years these programs have become infamous as tools for deception, utilised by hackers to first gain trust, and then steal someone’s personal details for further exploitation.

The question is though, can anything good come from these bots? Can they provide an actual benefit to both people and organisations? Perhaps so.

One arena that has already seen some deployment of bots lies with marketing. Proving to be natural spammers, bots can be tasked with nagging away at prospective clients until they cave or block.

While the funny ones featuring a long lost prince from Africa seeking a cash injection is easy to spot and dismiss, official bots do have their practical uses. These are able to identify potential consumers for the product or service, follow up on initial messages/emails, and even engage clientele to a limited degree, before involving an official staff member.

Another area where social media bots might be able to contribute lies with events. If a sophisticated platform was to be wired into and tasked in managing a live event, such as a conference or concert, as well as being equipped with multiple sensors, it would be ability to gauge the liveliness of the event and react accordingly.

For example, if such a system were to identify that an event is in poor attendance, it can immediately access its social media channels and contact potentially interested individuals or groups.

In professional conferences that often feature speakers and debaters, a bot could immediately share details of an ongoing session on social media, engage the right audience, and perhaps even initiate and moderate a conversation between multiple users.

Bots can also monitor security at an event and alert either staff or local authorities if an emergency situation arises.

On the social media side, it can warn attendees of event to either vacate the premises, or avoid attendance all together, if the circumstances are that dire.

While all this can be of course done by an actual person, the individual is limited by what one can feasible do during an live event, save if they were solely assigned responsibility for the task.

Furthermore, in an emergency situation, where most individuals would not be able to act or communicate in a calm manner, a bot would have little issue there. It could, in an unflappable manner, provide quck and easy instructions to aid people getting to safety.

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