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Chatbots are technologies or services that are integrated into websites or messenger services and can answer user queries automatically with the help of artificial intelligence. The term chatbot can be broken down into two words. On the one hand, it is made up of the English word "chat" (=conversation) and on the other hand of "bot" (an abbreviation of "robot", which stands for "automaton").

What's the difference to normal bots?

The difference between chatbots and bots is that in computer science, bots are described as independently running programmes that provide their services without human intervention. They only need to be initiated once at the beginning. [1] In some cases, these programs are even malicious and can be traced back to botnets that coordinate large Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. [2] In general, however, chatbots are defined as computer programs designed to simulate conversations with humans over the internet. A chatbot therefore enables a conversation between a human and a machine.

artificial intelligence

This requires the use of artificial intelligence in various forms. This communication is only possible in a roundabout way by means of a programming language that is understood by the computer. This is because the computer can process human language using so-called Natural Language Processing (NLP), in which the computer interprets what is said and deduces the user's intention from it. The intention is then translated into an action that is carried out independently by the computer. This action can either be an answer to a question from the user or the taking of an action. To realise this, a knowledge base with answers and actions must be stored behind the NLP.

Integration and the future

Chatbots can also be integrated into voice assistants such as Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Siri or Microsoft Cortana, which execute the requests voice-based and are also referred to as Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPA). It is believed that chatbots will replace both websites and apps in the future. This is because the big technology companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft offer systems that help chatbots understand and interpret user input. These platforms, such as Google with Dialogflow, Facebook with, IBM with Watson or Microsoft with LUIS, are made publicly available to the masses as a web service and thus open the doors to the use of highly developed machine learning systems. [1]


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[1] Smolinski et al. (2017): Innovations und Innovationsmanagement in der Finanzbranche, Wiesbaden: Springer.
[2] Radziwill, Nicole and Benton, Morgan (2017): Evaluating Quality of Chatbots and Intelligent Conversational Agents, in: Software Quality Professional, Vol. 19, No. 3.