In between talks at Botness, a gathering of bot community leaders held last month in San Francisco, Andy Mauro wondered aloud if chatbots will ultimately make people more social.
“There are [social] aspects of the web — forums, groups, and stuff — but not every experience on the web is community, and, debatably, most experiences are not communal. It’s you on a web page reading somebody else’s content. Same thing with mobile,” said Mauro, founder of bot platform Automat.
One bot that appears to have brought some people closer together is Shep, a chatbot for a prayer community that anyone can join to ask for prayers or to pray for others. Shep bot, with its logo of what appears to be a lamb driving a scooter or motorcycle, is available on Facebook Messenger. The bot sends users a list of new prayer requests daily.
On Shep, invocations are often serious. Pete N. asked that the Lord bless his family with love, peace, and happiness. Then there were prayers for Danielle P. who “recently lost her job and is looking for opportunities in the bay area, but has never moved out of her home town. please pray that an opportunity that fits her is provided, and where ever it is, she is able to transition well.”
Others are not so serious, like the guy who prayed for the St. Louis Blues in the NHL playoffs, and the guy who wanted the Cavaliers to win the NBA finals so he could “make dank sad Jordan memes over Steph Curry’s face.”
Other requests for intercession run the gamut of humanity’s desires. Zack T. prayed for truth. Radu I. prayed for Brexit. Ben C. prayed for family and for his dog’s severe allergies. Martin M. prayed for you.
Shep doesn’t appear to have attracted a sizable user community yet, but, as with prayer boxes and the Dial-a-Prayer of the past, people seeking solace may be may be drawn to the idea of a network of others who are willing to pray for them.