VentureBeat’s Bots Channel tracks the most important news and analysis from the exploding fields of bots and messaging. Each week, we select the top stories and present them in in our free weekly newsletter, BotBeat. We include news stories by VentureBeat staff, guest articles from leading figures in the bots community, and posts from a wide variety of other outlets. You can subscribe to our BotBeat newsletter to receive this information in your inbox every Thursday.

Here’s this week’s newsletter:

It’s a question that I get asked all the time: What’s the relationship between bots and messaging? My reply: Well, what came first, the chicken or the egg?

While I know it may seem impolite to answer a serious question with a riddle, even an existential one, I explain that ultimately it doesn’t matter. On the farm, what matters is that chickens and eggs both exist. When properly cared for, chickens lay eggs, which become more chickens to lay more eggs, and so on. If one of them is removed, then this virtuous circle collapses. The same is true for bots and messaging. Yes, both can exist independently, but when paired, and properly nourished, they create a mode of communication — conversations — that are both self-sustaining and rewarding.

Google’s launch of smart messaging app Allo offers a glimpse of this interdependence between bots and messaging. Allo aims to help “keep your conversation going, by providing assistance when you need it.” For Allo, this means that bots are standing by in the form of Google Assistant, waiting in the background ready to answer questions within a chat like “@google best italian restaurant nearby?” Aside from the supplying a list of nearby establishments for the chat participants to choose from, the bot can then book a reservation, help with directions, line up transportation, and so on.

This use case fulfills investor Phil Libin’s prediction, “The new thing is I’m chatting with you, and there’s a bot involved adding structure and augmenting this conversation with functionality.” 

Google’s Allo also raises the ante for Facebook Messenger, which seems to be inching toward these types of conversations. As my colleague Khari Johnson writes, “It’s easy to imagine Rooms [a possible feature] becoming a subset of groups in which conversations between a small number of participants can take place, with a bot one day providing structure and information.”

Oh, and back to bots and messaging. Well, which is the chicken and which is the egg? Visit our Bots Channel and let me know which is which.

— Blaise Zerega
Editor in Chief

P.S. We hope you enjoy this video of Luka, Kore, and Fandango presenting their bots at MobileBeat 2016.

From the Bots Channel

Even your toaster is about to be smarter than you

As the cloud and A.I. join hands in eternal matrimony, expect a new sentient being to transform our lives forever. Let’s call it, for now, Cloud-A.I.. Cloud-A.I. will be connected to our devices and appliances, and it will be tethered to us like a new best friend. We will select which portion of our identity […]

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Lessons learned from building the UberAssistant chatbot

I am a Uber power user, meaning I use Uber as my primary means of transport. In the morning I use UberPool to get from home to office and in the evening from office to home. I do this six days a week. Here is what my trip-booking experience looks like: Wait for the app to start. This […]

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Google acquires natural language understanding startup Api.ai

Google today said that it’s acquired API.ai, a startup with tools for speech recognition and natural language understanding. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. In addition to its developers tools, Api.ai offers a conversational assistant app with more than 20 million users. Google did not disclose its plans for integrating the startup’s technology. That will […]

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Oracle launches a chatbot development platform

At the Oracle OpenWorld conference in San Francisco today, Larry Ellison, Oracle’s former chief executive and current chief technology officer, showed off a new platform for building and running chatbots. Not surprisingly, Oracle is positioning its chatbot platform as a simple interface for enterprise applications. But the chatbots made with it can work in modern […]

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Facebook Messenger’s plan to go full WeChat may be hidden in its source code

Facebook Messenger could have a new group chat feature on the way. Called Rooms, the potential new feature could give users the ability to create rooms “about a topic or event that you’re interested in.” “Rooms are for public conversations about topics and interests. Each room has a link that can be shared so anyone […]

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7 predictions from early-stage bot investors

Right now, Facebook, Microsoft, and more than 170 companies across the bot landscape are trying to put software inside chat platforms. As bots become part of the biggest platforms on the planet, there’s wide speculation about how they will change tech and business That’s why three enthusiastic early-stage venture capitalists were invited to the Intelligent Assistants Conference in […]

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Related coverage

Why Facebook and Microsoft say chatbots are the talk of the town

“Chatbots are the new apps,” said Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella earlier this year. He was not the first senior tech exec to make this claim.
“Threads are the new apps,” suggested Facebook’s head of messaging products David Marcus in January, referring to the threads of conversation in apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. (via The Guardian)

Read the full story

 

Chat Bots Aren’t a Fad. They’re a Revolution.

In August, the White House’s chief digital officer announced a new way to catch President Obama’s ear: a Messenger bot, allowing citizens to “speak” directly to the administration through their Facebook accounts. The U.S. government hasn’t historically been an early adopter of new technology, so if it’s embracing bots, you know they’re having a moment. (via BackChannel)

Read the full story

 

The Age of the AI: Bots Are Getting Better At Detecting Our Emotions

Artificial intelligence (AI) is all about getting a machine to mimic a human in every way: thought, speech, movement. That’s why one of the tests for AI is the Turing test: whether a robot can fool a human into thinking it is conversing with another of its own species. (via Futurism)

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Hard questions about bot ethics

Bots are becoming a part of our life. I wake up in the morning and tell Alexa to play my Brazilian samba, I let Amy set my meetings and I check stats and reports in Slack. Bot builders and users alike are starting to understand that bots are an integral part of our life. But what are the rules that govern these new tech friends? (via TechCrunch)

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