Among the many things that Bots can do and the many services they offer us, there is one greater, broader trend they are influencing. If the Bot revolution skyrockets the way it’s widely predicted to do, then the very way that we understand searching, or using the internet could change. If you have an army of Bots ready to answer your specific questions and help you to complete specific tasks, why would you have to go to Google or another search engine to find answers? At this stage search engine queries still dominate heavily but we’ve taken a closer look at how and why this is quite possibly set to change in the coming years.
To understand why Bot searches could become more prominent, or preferenced by users, we have to consider how they work. When you type a question or subject into a search engine it is a very wooden experience that often requires tailoring, rewording and total re-contemplation of the subject until you get the answers and the content you need. There’s no doubt that these systems are ever-improving and taking strides to personalise the experience, but interacting with a Bot to receive information is a whole different ball-game – for more than one reason. A Bot sits somewhere between the line of a program and a person, in terms of the nature of the interaction. A well built Bot, especially one tailored to a specific subject matter, is a master of predicting questions and therefore knowing on-point answers to provide. While there are many Bots in development that are set to usurp the very search engines we know and understand from beneath us (okay a bit dramatic, Google isn’t going anywhere) today we’re taking a look at some of the high-end and clever Bots that already exist, to explore the way they have the power to alter our internet-search style, even at this early stage.
How can Bots change the way we search?
To answer this question, the best thing is to take a look at a few Bots that are already doing this, in a sense. Take Facebook Messenger’s KLM. Instead of asking a search engine for the KLM website, where to check flight details, how to check in etc. you can simply ask the Bot and get all your answers via Messenger. Another example is Telegram’s Translator Bot; instead of going to a search engine to find out how to say a word or a phrase in another language, the Bot can quickly (and hopefully accurately) answer it for you. News Bots, like CNN or Bing news are the same – instead of googling news topics of checking websites for breaking stories and topics of interest, the Bots can provide you with exactly what you’re looking for throughout the day. Even Bots like App of the Day encourage us to stop using search engines, because theoretically they remove the need for our own, self determined searches for things like good, new apps. Instead we have a Bot telling us this information without even having to ask for it. You no longer need to search for weather information as there are weather Bots available to tell you all the answers you need. The downside is that it takes our autonomy away a bit, but ultimately it serves us in the sense that our daily lives are streamlined just a little bit more.
Why is it better?
There are many reasons why using Bots for search can be a positive experience. Sure, sometimes we know exactly what we want and need, and going to a search engine is the best way to get there quickly. In other instances, we need a bit of a helping hand, and relentless search engine querying doesn’t always get us exactly where we need to go. If the Bot is built well, it will feel like a naturally flowing conversation with a human, which is obviously a more effective way to get results. The simple fact that it’s a conversation based search means that it can be narrowed, personalised and focused on getting the result, not a collection of words with the hope of answers. Perhaps the best thing about it, that really sets it apart from searching as we understand it today, is that the goal is to give you one simple, finalised and accurate result, as opposed to thousands of pages ranked by relevance. Bots are also able to provide us with reasons why we’re receiving the results that we are, a search engine can’t do that, so we have no help in refining the search. Perhaps the last element, which makes Bot usage so strong in this area is that if it is confused or not understanding what you’re asking, or how to get you your results, it’s able to ask questions. This kind of conversation based searching essentially re-imagines what we already understand about searching the internet, it turns it into a back and forth interaction. Obviously there are many ways that this can fall apart or simply not quite work, but if the Bot is well built and well prepared, the results can be excellent and much more accurate compared to search engine searching. There are plenty of search based bots in development, and we’re sure to see some pretty special ones popping up in the near future. Imagine a Bot that could help you search your university library database, or find the exact groceries that you’re looking for – the potential is almost endless, and certainly optimistic.
Summary: Bots are changing, and will continue to change, the way we search because of their interactive, responsive and questioning nature. Instead of providing a search engine with terms and then refining until we’ve found the perfect set of words to get the result we’re looking for, Bots can interact with us, ask us questions and do their best to seek out the answers for us. They’re also able to be specialised and have a particular database for a very specific category. Ultimately, the nature by which we search is going to at least partially change from simple querying to interactive, conversation based interactions to get results. Exciting times.