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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:

Job loss caused by technology and automation was an important topic during the recent U.S. presidential election, and one that is generating a bit of heat at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week. While business leaders wrestle with social and economic costs versus increased productivity, whatever salve they come up with will do little for customer service and call center workers, among others, who might be replaced by chatbots and artificial intelligence. However, it was AI, specifically, and the jobs it might replace that won people’s attention at Davos.

During a panel discussion, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella addressed the topic without offering specifics. “It’s not like we actually have economic growth today. So we actually need technological breakthrough, we need AI,” Nadella said, praising the potential for GDP growth and explaining that laid-off workers would need retraining.


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Rometty, however, acknowledged the worries of workers who fear AI. “There’s so much fear about jobs,” she said. “But most of us will be working with these systems.” She argued that waves of new technologies create waves of new jobs.

Alone, such talk means little and does nothing to assuage the fears of vulnerable workers. However, it does suggest at least an awareness of the disconnect between those who look at technology and see utopia, and those who see a threat to their existence. I suppose it will have to do as a first step.

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, AI, and messaging.

Thanks for reading,

— Blaise Zerega

Editor in Chief

P.S. Please enjoy this video of IBM CEO Ginni Rometty and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella discussing artificial intelligence at Davos.


From the Bots Channel

AI needs more data.

Why 2017 is the year of data-driven AI

There was much ado about artificial intelligence (AI) platforms in 2016. It was warranted. Major developments and offerings came out of Microsoft (Cognitive Services), Google (TensorFlow), Amazon (Rekognition, Polly, Lex), IBM (Watson), Salesforce (Einstein), and many more. AI and machine learning (ML) are the hammers that turn just about every business’ data problem into a […]

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Google Home.

Google Assistant actions can now talk about religion, eldercare, and city services

A new batch of third-party Google Assistant actions are now available to chat with on a Google Home. New ways to speak with Google’s AI assistant focus on eldercare, prayer, and city services. One new action points you toward bus times in Singapore, another toward pool times in Seattle, and another garbage pick-up times in […]

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Look for ways a chatbot can make life easier.

Bots will replace people before they replace apps

The bot land grab is officially under way and everyone is rushing to recreate successful app ideas in chat interfaces. Somehow the old pitch by analogy — we’re “AirBnB for pets” — has found a way to be even less original. Now any aspiring entrepreneur need only take the name of a successful app and […]

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Will super-intelligence destroy job security?

Why IoT needs AI

At one of my recent talks in New York about AI in the supply chain, one of the key questions that came up was “Are you talking about robots?” You see, AI has been romanticized into this abstract term that conjures images of walking robots doing your household chores while you just sit back and […]

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PokerIn a ‘man vs. machine’ poker contest, the machine is winning

A very interesting contest is taking place at the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, where four of the world’s best poker players are playing against a machine. And as of now anyway, the machine is winning. In this case the machine, named Libratus, is using artificial intelligence (AI) technology developed at nearby Carnegie Mellon University, a […]

Read the full story


Amazon Echo

Betaworks launches Voicecamp startup accelerator around AI assistants and Alexa skills

Early-stage startup investor Betaworks announced today that it plans to launch a startup accelerator this spring for the makers of artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, and Cortana. Early-stage companies working on a prototype or beta version of an Alexa skill or Google Assistant action are invited to apply. Betaworks was an investor […]

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facebook-messenger-hero-167 bot trends to watch in 2017

It’s been less than a year since the Messenger Platform launched, and we’ve seen amazing results in a short amount of time. Throughout 2016, developers built engaging experiences while my team focused on building the best platform we could for them. As we observed what and how they were building, we continued to iterate and […]

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Beyond VB

How 5 brands have approached their Messenger chatbots

Facebook Messenger has been luring brands and developers to its platform to create bots for just about everything from acting as a concierge to doling out advice. But there is a lot of variation in something as straightforward as a question-and-answer format. Brands have taken different approaches when it comes to chatbots. (via Digiday)

Read the full story

London startup launches chatbot to help renters exercise their rights

London-based startup RentersUnion has created what it’s hoping will be a socially useful chatbot, pitching their web-based bot as a robot replacement for (expensive) housing lawyers. The intended user is anyone not on the London property ladder, and thus at the mercy of landlords, tenancy agreements and (apparently ever-inflating) rents. (via Techcrunch)

Read the full story

What’s the big journalism trend for 2017? Fear (oh, and voice news bots)

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism’s annual predictions report, released Wednesday, starts out a little bleak and doesn’t exactly let up: In 2017, “key developments will center on fears about how changing technology is affecting the quality of information and the state of our democracy.” (via Neiman Foundation)

Read the full story

Microsoft’s Nadella Warns Against ‘Hubris’ Amid AI Growth

Microsoft Corp. and its competitors should eschew artificial intelligence systems that replace people instead of maximizing their time, Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella said in an interview Monday. (via Bloomberg)

Read the full story

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