New Year's fireworks.
New Year's fireworks. (source: Leandro Neumann Ciuffo on Flickr).

In this episode of the O’Reilly Bots Podcast, Pete Skomoroch and I look back at 2016, a big year for bots that saw important developments in platforms, tools, and underlying AI.

We recap some of the biggest bot-related stories of 2016, including:

  • People want to use messaging interfaces!
  • Facebook Messenger, Kik, Slack, and Microsoft all made it easier for developers to create bots
  • The field of conversational interfaces exploded
  • Google’s open source TensorFlow library was a major accelerant for the field of deep learning
  • Developments in workflow bots from Smooch to PagerDuty
  • The emergence of god bots—Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Facebook M—and what they mean for bot discovery
  • Microsoft’s new Zo bot, which uses “guide rails” to steer conversations away from some of the controversies that plagued Microsoft’s Tay bot
  • The December introduction of Microsoft Teams

We also present our predictions for 2017. Pete foresees progress in more seamless payment methods, ways to monetize bots, discovery and installation, and bot-to-bot communication. I expect further development in the micro-features of bots and improvements in NLU. I also think we’ll see more large organizations deploying their first bots next year.