All About Bots
Even if you aren’t familiar with bots, you’ve likely come into contact with many of these forms of artificial intelligence, or AI. Bots are applications that perform automated tasks such as setting alarms, relaying weather forecasts or conducting online search for travel deals. Many smart phones come equipped with personal-service bots, such as the iPhone’s Siri.1
AI is ramping up in a number of ways that affect consumers’ lives — even when we don’t realize it. For example, Amazon uses AI for automated shopping suggestions and Bank of America utilizes online customer service chatbots.2
There are many areas in which a bot can either deploy specific instructions or assess historical data and make recommendations. However, there are still areas in our lives that can benefit from being handled by human interaction, such as financial decisions. We believe it’s important to work with a trusted and experienced financial professional who can offer guidance tailored to your circumstances.
For example, there’s more to buying an insurance contract than just knowing your age and expected lifespan. Many factors — such as leaving money to your loved ones, retirement income needs and goals for the future — come into play. If you are looking for some human interaction to help you assess your retirement income needs, give us a call.
As for bots, there’s a lot of chatter online and in the news about their misuse in how they spread misinformation and influence the way people think and consequently act. For example, the social media website Twitter is reported to have a preponderance of bots used as fake accounts to generate acrimony among users. According to one report, bot accounts make up 9 to 15 percent of all Twitter users. The company deletes these accounts once they are identified and has increased measures to prevent bots from signing up to the tune of around 50,000 new bot accounts a day.3
Over at Facebook, they are combating the bot-manipulated spread of fake news by using their own automated systems. Unfortunately, there are a few flaws with using AI to combat AI. For example, in the days leading up to the Fourth of July, the newspaper in a small Texas town posted a series of passages from the U.S. Declaration of Independence on its Facebook page.4
One post that cited potentially offensive-sounding language (“He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation”) was identified as hate speech and thereby removed by Facebook bots. Eventually the mistake was rectified with an apology from Facebook.5
An interesting twist in the bot phenomenon is some companies want their users to believe they’ve developed the latest bot technology, but in reality, they’ve determined it’s cheaper to hire humans to do the work rather than invest in AI capabilities. In effect, they’ve hired humans to imitate bot technology instead of the other way around. For example, a couple of startup firms that feature calendar-scheduling services actually employ humans to pretend to be chatbots for this mind-numbing task. Some of the workers were so bored by the task they reported looking forward to being replaced by actual bots.6
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1 Sarah Mitroff. CNET. May 5, 2016. “What is a bot? Here’s everything you need to know.” https://www.cnet.com/how-to/what-is-a-bot/. Accessed July 8, 2018.
2 Ben Dickson. TheNextWeb.com. July 5, 2018. “7 surprising companies where you can work on cutting-edge AI technology.” https://thenextweb.com/artificial-intelligence/2018/07/05/companies-work-ai-technology/. Accessed July 8, 2018.
3 Maya Kosoff. Vanity Fair. June 27, 2018. “Can Twitter Purge Its Bots Without Killing Its Bottom Line?” https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/06/can-jack-dorsey-twitter-purge-bots-without-killing-bottom-line. Accessed July 8, 2018.
4 Simon Sharwood. The Register. July 5, 2018. “US Declaration of Independence labeled hate speech by Facebook bots.” https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/07/05/us_declaration_of_independence_labeled_hate_speech_by_facebook_bots/. Accessed July 8, 2018.
6 Olivia Solon. The Guardian. July 6, 2018. “The rise of ‘pseudo-AI’: how tech firms quietly use humans to do bots’ work.” https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/06/artificial-intelligence-ai-humans-bots-tech-companies. Accessed July 8, 2018.
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