By 2015 Gartner, an IT research company, predicts that 10 percent of your internet friends will be robots. Or if you use their language: “nonhumans.”
Here’s how it’ll happen: (Disclaimer: don’t doze off or stop reading–it’s only 1 pull quote I swear)
“Efforts to systematize and automate social engagement will result in the rise of social bots — automated software agents that can handle, to varying degrees, interaction with communities of users in a manner personalized to each individual.”
This is bleak indeed. Social media interns across the country will be let go and people hoping to connect with their favorite brands will desperately chat-up bot software.
You: Let’s be friends!
Company Bot: Thank you for your friendship, Human. I look forward to messaging you about great savings!
The benefits for firms abound. They’ll save time and money and they won’t run the risk of stepping on any toes. Social media bots will be programmed to respect all of their human friends with politically correct links, deals, and messages.
The cost is more tragic. Whatever social intimacy, let’s-be-friends-regardless-of-your-naked-attempt-to-sell-me-something, will be destroyed. There won’t be friendship–just a cold win-win alliance. People will friend bots for links to discounts and the marketers behind these fiendish bots will friend people en masse to make their numbers look amazing.
But there is a plus side. Consumers may be able to employ these bots for their own social advantages.
Perhaps, in the not so distant future, I can get bots to comment lovingly and enthusiastically on my Facebook page.
Oh, Wbriggs! You’re so brave, thanks for rescuing my dog from the burning building last week!
Or they may be able to re-tweet everything I say, making sure to bookend my links with adoring exclamation points.
The mind reels at the social possibilities. These bots may make it possible for me to appear wildly successful, interesting, and wealthy–which in turn may attract a whole new brand of marketing bots that will happily spam me about discount yacht sales and Ferrari year-end-sales drives.
I’ll of course be forced to hire another bot to talk prices with the yacht-marketing bots. Perhaps it’ll be the beginning of a long and happy friendship.
Picture Credit: Samuel Stroube