Tech Talk: A Wave Of Chatbots Are Now Facebook Compatible

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The United States' Army has a chat bot called Sgt. Star that answers common questions for recruits, and has answered millions since 2006. Aetna's Ann chatbot is designed to help clients with common issues. Julie and Jenn help customers of Amtrak, and Alaska Airlines, respectively. Aside from all being AI-based chatbots, they have a few things in common. One of those things is that they are built on Next IT's Alme bot platform. Another of these things is that they can now be integrated into Facebook Messenger. According to Next IT's Vice President, Jennifer Snell, this is a move that has been in the works for months, and went through a period where the company was gathering input from customers on whether they would like to integrate with popular modern chat apps. The fact that enough of them said yes to get the movement passed speaks volumes about modern society and the state of human and technology interfacing.

The first app to receive the blessing of this huge wave of old-school chat bots, hailing from the age of Smarterchild and bearing advanced AI that has grown with the technology from its onset, is Facebook Messenger. This isn't terribly surprising, given the fact that Facebook has over a billion users worldwide, and Messenger has many users that aren't even on Facebook, instead using the app as not only a chat app, but a portal to the web and to services. There are some who say that chat bots will soon supersede traditional apps, and they may not be wrong. Chat bots are ending up everywhere and service the most niche of purposes, from ordering you an Uber to helping you figure out what to get at Whole Foods. This means it should really come as no surprise that such bots, especially those already in existence, would begin creeping into government and other more major areas and bridging the gap between those service providers and modern chat app users.

While all of the bots on the Alme platform can now be integrated with Messenger, some are not going to be, obviously.; the U.S. Army, for example, said that they are not working toward getting Sgt. Star working on any other platforms at the moment. According to Next IT, some of their customers were still using Facebook for human customer service and personal interactions up until recently, making the transition to using bots a difficult decision, and a move that could garner bad press. Still, this new compatibility interface opens the doors for a huge amount of bots that have served a lot of different purposes over the years to get closer to modern users. Specifically, they'll never be further away than their phones.

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The Alme platform is focused on a few key tenets that lend themselves to chat bots that can not only compete with modern alternatives, but can surpass them in some ways. The biggest perk of Alme is human-style dialogue through machine learning, allowing customers to use natural language and bots to have a fairly accurate picture of what they mean when they do. When the bots run into an issue and can't figure something out, they're programmed to ask for help from their owner, then take that information on board for the future on a flexible basis. The platform also aggregates all available systems that the bots are given access to, making them extremely knowledgeable, flexible, and powerful. New functions can be added at any time, as well as new triggers for existing functions. The bots are more than ready to take on the modern competition on the world stage, it's just a matter of which bot owners decide to get their bots onto modern platforms, and of course how they approach the rollout.