Explore the phenomenon: Bots in everyday life
Different types of bots have become increasingly commonplace. The term ‘bot’ is based on the word ‘robot’, but while robots are physical objects, bots are computer programs. Robots can be helpful in the physical world, whereas bots provide help in digital environments. For example, they can automatically carry out certain simple tasks based on a certain pattern or events in their environment.
Chatbots mimic conversations between people. They are used to carry out customer service tasks, such as the reception of orders, helping with reservations or replying to certain questions customers may ask. Some chatbots may even reduce the risk of depression by offering continuous support. One of the biggest benefits of chatbots is that they are always available and that they can be used to answer the same questions time and again – a task that people may soon find tiresome. In its simplest form, a chatbot can be based on pre-programmed responses that a customer can select from to guide the conversation. On the other hand, chatbots that use artificial intelligence can learn from things people say or write, interpret questions and also answer them in a way that sounds natural. The language an AI-based chatbot uses is crucial for making the conversation flow. The usability of these solutions suffers if their language models are not good.
Users may find chatbots either beneficial or irritating, depending on how well they work. Regardless of their functionality, chatbots aim to help. Influencer bots, however, are only rarely designed with good intentions in mind. These bots disguise themselves as normal social media users that can like and share people’s content or write in the comments section. In reality, they are automated accounts, whose main objective is to influence other users. For example, the aim may be to mislead or to spread uncertainty or false information. Bots can also be used to increase the visibility of certain people or messages, particularly before elections. Bots are not always easy to recognise, but if an account is used to actively spread one type of message or if they contain little information on other topics and have only a few followers, the chances are the account is a bot.
Text: Linda Mannila
Image: Siru Tirronen
The media landscape of children and young people keeps changing, with new phenomena following each other back-to-back. Providing pupils with tools for understanding and processing these phenomena is important. This learning package is part of Pathways to New Media Phenomena – Information and Exercise Materials Series. The series includes information and exercises for the teacher and the pupils. You can explore new phenomena in a meaningful way with the help of the How to discuss new media literacy phenomena through pedagogical means method.
CC BY 4.0