Hot chat bots

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"We are understanding how to 'package up' some of the key NLP and AI tech so that even non-programmers might be able to create simple but useful chatbots (and experts can create super chatbots)," wrote Lee.

That tallies with Hartman's suggestion, that the tools and platforms for creating and hosting bots are so widespread and easy to use that you may be making your own bots within a year or two.

Perhaps the first chatbot of notoriety was Joseph Weizenbaum’s Eliza, introduced in 1963, a chatbot that simulated communicating with a human.

Since then, chatbots have evolved and tools have become increasingly more available and powerful.

Many of these platforms are still in beta and evolving, based on customer and developer feedback.

A lot of factors have come together to make this explosion of bots possible.

One of them is the fact that people are just plain tired of downloading apps.

"On the other hand," he said, "people have moved into messenger apps — they're living in chat. or you could have a service that lives inside an app they already have." It's a bit like sneaking in the back door, but it works — people are engaging with the bots, and there sure isn't any shortage of messaging apps to choose from.

"We are seeing the rise of lots of useful 'conversational canvases,' SMS/txt, Skype IM, We Chat, Slack, Line, Telegram, Twitter, etc," said Peter Lee, corporate vice president of Microsoft Research, in an email.

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