Chatbots are computer programs that can now interact with people in an almost natural way via social media or chat programs. Their functionality is based on artificial intelligence and their own algorithms or uses ready-made question-answer patterns. As digital assistants, chatbots are an integral part of human-machine interaction.

General information on the topic

The idea of computers interacting with humans has been around for many decades. At the end of the 1950s, the Turing test demonstrated a way of distinguishing human communication from computer-controlled communication. In the mid-1960s, Eliza was the world’s first chatbot. Probably based on Eliza Doolittle from George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion”, Eliza became a computer-controlled psychotherapist.

With the advent of the first chat programs like ICQ in the late 1990s, chatting became more and more popular with the nascent internet. So-called chatbots or chatterbots were also used. They had the task of pointing out the “chatiquette”, rules for chatting, to the user when visiting a chat room. In addition, these chatbots were able to provide answers to some simple questions. These were fixed patterns. Serious communication was not possible in this way.

After the chat programs faded into the background again around 2010 because Facebook and later Whatsapp and other messengers came onto the market, the chat programs managed a kind of comeback as part of marketing measures. With the help of artificial intelligence, new algorithms, big data and other technology, the new chatbots have also become more intelligent. Especially with the help of language assistants such as Siri from Apple or Alexa from Amazon, chatbots have become real digital assistants. The same applies to systems such as Google Home or Microsoft’s Cortana.


How chatbots work

The first chatbots were based on very simple rules. A database was created for the bots’ work, containing questions and the appropriate answers. If a question was asked of the bot, it would break down the question into individual components in order to grasp the meaning and then provide the appropriate answer. Very simple chatbot functions would be, for example, answers to questions about the time or how to convert one currency into another. In a sense, Google does that job with a majority of the answers in the answer box.

On the one hand, modern chatbots access a very large database and, on the other hand, they learn with the requests of the users. These self-learning systems are very similar to artificial intelligence.


Even if, according to a survey, every fourth user in Germany can imagine communicating with a chatbot, communication robots are not yet accepted by all parts of the population. Many people are sceptical about data protection and privacy when it comes to digital assistants as a further development of chatbots. Google only had to admit a mistake in October 2017, because the newly delivered Google Home Mini listened to all conversations and did not only switch on when a command was given. Similar criticism has been levelled at Amazon’s Alexa.

Chatbots also came under criticism when they were obviously used in the US election campaign to massively influence public opinion. Even if it is more about the variant of the so-called “social bots”, reports about robot journalists or election-campaign chatbots tend to cause negative hits.

Importance of social media marketing

Chatbots offer a wide range of possibilities for companies. For example, bots can be used for customer relationship management . The bots can interact with customers via social networks or their own website and answer questions about products or orders.

Chatbots can also be used to publish automated messages about your own products or the company in social networks. In addition, intelligent bots are suitable for better analyzing communication with customers.


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