20 June 2018

2016-2017 Chatbot Trending News Analysis

From January 2016 to December 2017 a steady increase in interest of chatbots can be seen, reflected in the worldwide web search statistics.

The launch of Facebook Messenger chatbots in April of 2016 is generally considered to be the beginning of the current hype surrounding chatbots. This can be seen reflected in web search trends; however, the trends show that the story of rogue Microsoft chatbot “Tay” preceded that event by a month, and with equal popularity. Microsoft gained further publicity in December not only with the announcement of Skype chatbots, but also with the release of their “Zo” chatbot. Thus, the trends reveal that Microsoft and Facebook were neck and neck in competition for the chatbot space, although perhaps different markets.

While 2016 showed dramatic growth in chatbot interest worldwide, the trends show it leveling off throughout 2017, with slighter growth in interest. The big chatbot stories of 2017 were dominated by negative scenarios. In July, Facebook shut down its language-learning experiment, where chatbots developed their own language. In August, Chinese chatbots were shut down for going off-script, in an unpatriotic way. In September, banking chatbots were launched in Australia, which garnered worldwide attention. In November, chatbots were launched that could troll scammers.

Preliminary results for 2018 show interest in chatbots flat, but remaining at the top of the overall interest scale.


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