Chatbots, social media and the law

The rise of ‘social bots’ has reached a tipping point in 2016, with four of the largest technology behemoths, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Facebook, putting their commercial and technological weight behind bot technology and announcing commercial products. This has been precipitated by the explosion of social media and has given these technologies an incredibly rich ground within which to learn, cause mischief and interact with their human users. The journey to this point has been long and tumultuous with these new technologies causing legal questions throughout their development. Parallel to this, the advent of hyper-scale, cloud-based systems and data analysis, combined with advanced artificial intelligence techniques means the potential for this convergent technology to shake the foundations of our privacy and even legal frameworks needs to be considered.

This paper will examine the history of these social bots, from their humble start as web crawlers and simple, action-orientated algorithms, to the more complicated self-learning bots that roam social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Furthermore, we will look at the complications that arise from teaching bots from social data and explore whether the algorithmic filtering of content used to increase consumer engagement skews or biases a bot’s ability to interact meaningfully across a range of audiences. Finally, we will look at the legal ramifications of social bots as their technology matures by examining the effects of filter bubbles, data collection, social trust and whether bots can have intent. Continue reading “Chatbots, social media and the law”

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The Consumerization of IT (Journalism)

There has been a storm on Twitter and (due to Robert Scoble’s involvement) Google+ recently over bloggers, journalists and the relationship between the two. It seems that Dan Lyons, a technology journalist for Newsweek, was upset — “Hit men, click whores and paid apologists: Welcome to the Silicon Valley cesspool” — and took to his personal blog to vent. Aiming at Michael Arrington and MG Siegler will inevitably draw fire but a week or so later, Lyons has further drawn on the ire of the social media elite by accusing Robert Scoble of trying to employ similar tactics. Scoble very publically rebutted Lyons’ arguments but the argument continues…

For me, a lot of this seems to boil down to one thing: the consumerization of technology journalism. Continue reading “The Consumerization of IT (Journalism)”

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