VentureBeat’s Bots Channel tracks the most important news and analysis from the exploding field 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 a good number of 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:

If you like the mayhem and carnage of robot wars, then you’re probably enjoying the verbal pyrotechnics and spoken savagery of the U.S. presidential campaign.

This week, reinforcements in this war of insults arrived in the form of chatbots from the Clinton campaign, which join a battlefield already aflame with tech applications. For instance, Donald Trump has long been suspected — or credited, depending on your point of view — of benefiting from bots that amplify his message on Twitter. Numerous developers had unleashed partisan chatbots like BFF Trump, TrumpBot, and DeepDrumpf that use AI and messaging to keep up with The Donald’s latest outrageous comments. (Curiously, there is a dearth of Clinton bots.) And there’s, which features bots representing each candidate with whom you can interact to learn more about their policy positions.

While many people lament the candidates’ lack of civility, on the bright side, much like other election cycles, this campaign season has become a proving ground for new technologies. (Anyone recall JibJab from 2004, or the John Kerry screensaver?) Come 2020, perhaps we’ll see candidates’ chatbots debate each other. Anything to restore some dignity to the electoral process would be welcome.

As always, please send news tips to Khari Johnson and guest post submissions to John Brandon. Be sure to visit our Bots Channel for comprehensive news on bots and messaging.

Thanks for reading,

— Blaise Zerega

Editor in Chief

P.S.  Please enjoy this video from the George W. Bush era that describes SmarterChild, the first chatbot.


From the Bots Channel

11 commandments for chatbot developers

Chatbots are all over the place. They’re in your Facebook Messenger. They’re answering your customer service questions or helping you organize legal cases. Chatbots and other natural language interfaces are here, and they’re here to stay. App usage is declining, with most users spending 50 percent of their time in only one app — and that […]

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Why Google Assistant is smarter than Alexa (for now)

“Alexa, how long will it take me to get to Chicago from here?” This question is not profoundly complex. In many ways, it’s more like a search query, and it shouldn’t have anything to do with A.I. Yet there are several important data points involved, and the Alexa assistant that runs on my Amazon Echo […]

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Microsoft and Yahoo have built fantasy football bots

Yahoo announced Thursday that users of its Yahoo Fantasy Football platform can now use a new Amazon Alexa skill to get updates during weekend matchup updates, get predictions, and learn about the performance of individual players. The new skill emerges a little over a week after Microsoft announced that it is working with the NFL to create its own fantasy […]

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Slack bot builder Howdy now supports Microsoft’s Bot Framework

The main set of tools used to create Microsoft and Slack bots now work together, the companies told VentureBeat this week. The integration means Microsoft Bot Framework users will be able to make bots for Slack, and Botkit users will be able to bring their bots to additional platforms, like Telegram, Kik, Twilio, and Skype. (Before the change, Botkit was […]

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This is what an A.I.-powered future looks like

Today, we are just beginning to scratch the surface of what is possible with artificial intelligence (A.I.) and how individuals will interact with its various forms. Every single aspect of our society — from cars to houses to products to services — will be reimagined and redesigned to incorporate A.I. A child born in the year 2030 will not comprehend […]

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Salesforce LiveMessage will let service reps talk with customers on Messenger, Line, SMS, WeChat

During his opening Dreamforce keynote, Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff introduced a bevy of products and updates, many of which have since been explored in detail. However, there was one which he quickly skimmed over called LiveMessage, an application that consolidates communication across multiple messaging apps. Today we know a little bit more about this new […]

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Related coverage

SPEAK, MEMORY When her best friend died, she rebuilt him using artificial intelligence

When the engineers had at last finished their work, Eugenia Kuyda opened a console on her laptop and began to type.
“Roman,” she wrote. “This is your digital monument.” (via The Verge)

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Technology Will Replace Many Doctors, Lawyers, and Other Professionals

Faced with the claim that AI and robots are poised to replace most of today’s workforce, most mainstream professionals — doctors, lawyers, accountants, and so on — believe they will emerge largely unscathed. During our consulting work and at conferences, we regularly hear practitioners concede that routine work can be taken on by machines, but they maintain that human experts will always be needed for the tricky stuff that calls for judgment, creativity, and empathy. (via Harvard Business Review)

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Duolingo’s chatbots help you learn a new language

Today’s chatbots, for the most part, aren’t all that useful, but what if you could use them to learn a new language? When it comes to learning languages, using what you’ve learned in the context of a conversation is extremely useful. If you are learning online, though, you often don’t have anybody to talk to. (via TechCrunch)

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RBS, NatWest and SEB banks employ virtual staff

Customers at Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest may soon be sorting out issues with help from a virtual chatbot.
Web-based Luvo will be able to answer simple queries such as how to order a replacement card. (via the BBC)

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