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 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:

Happy 2017! With CES in full swing, it’s evident that bots and AI have arrived. Whether in refrigerators, cars, or hairbrushes, smart assistants or voice-activated bots are pervasive. So pervasive that I’m not entirely sure what to call them anymore. Look up in the sky! Is it a bird, a plane, or a bot?

Even as they go mainstream, chatbots and their brethren still have a long way to go to become truly useful. What’s needed is a meta-bot that enables people to communicate with each other and access services seamlessly across all platforms.

I’m not talking about Messenger users communicating with Telegram users, rather I’m imagining an interoperable chatbot world where Alexa in, say, my self-driving Ford can connect with Google Assistant in, say, my wife’s self-driving Toyota. Sure mobile phones already meet his need, but only in part. Once bots participate in the conversation, they add structure and functionality. If we’re discussing dinner plans, this meta-bot should not only make a reservation for us, but also direct our cars to the restaurant. Something for CES 2020, perhaps? CES 2025? Drop us a line and let us know when you think this meta-bot might appear.

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 of Liam Boogar, Branding Director at Algolia, speaking at Slush 2016: “Chatbots It’s Like Uber for Conversations.”

From the Bots Channel

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Ford to bring Amazon’s Alexa to millions of cars already on the road

Ford is working to incorporate Amazon’s Alexa into cars with its Ford Sync 3 service, giving drivers the ability to control their car and smart home devices, the company announced Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Owners of Alexa-enabled devices like the Echo will be able to turn the car on, lock […]

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From left to right: Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Tap
Amazon Prime members can now voice-order meals through Alexa-enabled devices

Amazon is expanding the capabilities of its smart Alexa assistant by letting consumers order meals using just their voice through Alexa-enabled devices. The internet giant introduced meal deliveries to Seattle back in 2015, before expanding to cover countless U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, and New York. The Amazon Restaurants […]

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Nvidia has partnered with Audi on AI cars.
Nvidia partners with Audi to build AI cars

Nvidia is partnering with Audi to develop artificial intelligence for a new generation of self-driving cars. The companies are looking to commercialize Nvdia’s latest technology for advanced automotive applications. Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of Nvidia, announced during his keynote speech at CES 2017 that Nvidia has a new version of its car supercomputer chip, dubbed Xavier. […]

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The Slack Fund, with partners like Index Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz, has invested in 25 companies making bots for business and collaboration

Slack invests in 11 bot startups to seed its platform

Slack announced today that it has invested in nearly a dozen new botstartups to bolster its Slack App Directory. The team collaboration chat app has invested in 25 startups thus far with money from the Slack Fund, an $80 million investment fund backed by venture capital firms like Index Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz. The group […]

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Lenovo Smart Assistant.

Lenovo launches Smart Assistant, a $130 Amazon Echo competitor with Alexa inside

At the CES consumer technology conference in Las Vegas today, Lenovo is unveiling its answer to the trendy Amazon Echo smart speaker — a speaker called the Smart Assistant, which packs Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant. It’s coming in May. Alexa has gotten inside more and more products, but not many outright speakers that compete directly […]

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The Google Home personal assistant.

Google’s AI assistant has 5 New Year’s resolutions for you

Google Assistant and the smart speaker Google Home have some opinions on how to be a better person in 2017. Ask “What should my New Year’s resolution be?” and the AI assistant will tell you to do things like write a novel or pick up calligraphy. Here are the five answers to the question Google […]

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Related coverage

CES trends to watch in 2017: Self-driving cars, bots and internet of things

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), an annual event that often sets the tone for the year in tech, hits Las Vegas the first week of 2017. It’s usually dominated by gadgets like phones, cameras and TVs, but those aren’t expected to be this year’s headliners, said Vivek Wadhwa, distinguished fellow at Carnegie Mellon University’s college of engineering and a director of research at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering. (via CNBC)

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Virtual assistants, chatbots poised for mass adoption in 2017

Enterprises will continue to experiment with virtual assistants and chatbots in 2017 as they look to balance better customer service with operational efficiency. (via CIO)

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CMO’s Guide to Chatbots

Chatbots are the next phase in the migration from a desktop-dominant world to a mobile one. While bots are still nascent, as technology improves they are poised to replace brand websites and individualized apps. (via Advertising Age)

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Japanese white-collar workers are already being replaced by artificial intelligence

Most of the attention around automation focuses on how factory robots and self-driving cars may fundamentally change our workforce, potentially eliminating millions of jobs. But AI that can handle knowledge-based, white-collar work are also becoming increasingly competent. (via Quartz)

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