Having varied uses and implementations the specifics vary, but at its most essential a bot is a software application programmed to run automated tasks online.
Initially, they were designed to take care of simple and structurally repetitive tasks, much faster than a human being ever could. Since then, bots have grown in sophistication and capabilities, which has allowed their use on much more complex tasks.
An excellent way to truly understanding the concept is to take a look at some of the most popular (and important) implementations of bots right now.
Types of Bots
• Web Crawler: Arguably one of the most relevant kinds of bots right now, these bots are an integral piece of how the internet functions. Web crawlers – also known as “spiders” – are automated scripts in charge of fetching, analyzing, and indexing information from web servers. A process which is closely tied to SEO.
• Text-reading Algorithms: Another commonly used type of bot, these programs pour over excessive amounts of text and analyze it according to pre-established criteria. They help social media networks and news outlets filter comments, for example, and flag/exclude offensive content.
• Chatbots: Also known as chatterbots or talkbots, Chatbots are one of the most recognizable types of bots online today. If you have ever interacted with a site that offers you help through an online chat, chances are that you have bumped into one of these. They are programmed to simulate a human interlocutor and conduct a conversation on specific topics.
• Game bots: Probably best known to younger readers, these are bots programmed to carry out a task on a video game. Often seen under a negative light – as they automatize functions that should be challenging to users – they are nonetheless an impressive use of A.I. tech.
Are bots bad?
As with happens with every other piece of technology, bots are not inherently bad or good. As you’ve read, many provide essential functions that help things run smoothly. Having said that, it is possible to program these pieces of software for ill-intended purposes.