I believe, the origin of the word “chatbot” lies in IRC, Internet Relay Chat, such that all bots on a chat channel may be termed “chat bots”. However, “chatterbots” such as the prototypical ELIZA were natural language, conversational entities. We can see today this confusion still reigns with the latest Messenger bot craze, as well as with bots on other popular chat channels being referred to as “chat bots” regardless of natural language or conversational capability.
Facebook in one fell swoop re-defined “chat bots”. The problem is about managing expectations. People expect them to be “chatterbots”, rather than simply bots on chat channels. One company, in one move, has changed the English language in a short period of time., editor of , has started a closed group on Facebook called ‘Bots’ (aka ), with nearly 15,000x members today. I recently asked the following questions on that group:
- Who knows the inside history of the April chatbot surprise at Facebook?
- What was the decision making process, and what was the timeline of that process?
- Who were the people ultimately responsible for the decision to open Messenger to chatbots?
- What precisely is the relationship between the fabled “Facebook M” and the April chatbot surprise, opening Messenger to bots and automation?
, tech lead on Messenger Platform, and ‘official’ voice of Facebook chatbots in that Bots group replied: “It was a very curious story you will never hear (unfortunately).”