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As I monitor the wacky world of bots that is unfolding, I am beginning to see some pretty distinct pools of bot focused implementations, which tell me two things: 1) There will be a lot of activity in this space in the coming year & 2) It is going to be a shit show helluva ride.

If you haven’t picked up on it yet, everyone is talking about bots (even me). Its the new opportunity for startups, investors, and consumers! Whether its Twitter, Slack, or any of your other preferred messaging channels, bots are invading. If you believe what you read on the Interwebz, the bot evolution is upon us–let’s all get to work.

First, you can build a bot. This is by far the biggest opportunity around, by developing your own sentient being, that can deliver anyone sports stats and financial tips in their Slack channel. Every techie is busy sketching out their bot design, and firing up their welder in the workshop. Of course I am working on my own API Evangelist bot to help do my evil bidding, because I am easily influenced by trends like this.

If building bots isn’t in your wheelhouse, then you can always sells the picks & shovels to the bot builders. These will be the API driven dictionaries, file conversion, image filtering, SMS sending, flight lookup, hotel booking, and other picks and shovels that the bot builders will be needing to do what they do. You have a database of election data? Maybe a bunch of real estate and census data? Get to work selling the picks and shovels!

If you aren’t building bots, or equipping the people that are, you are probably the Twitters, Slacks, Microsofts, and Facebooks of the world who are looking to be the platforms in which all the bots will operate, and assault the humans. Every platform that has an audience in 2016, will have a bot enablement layer by 2018, or you will go out of business by 2020. Not really, but damn, that sounded so good, I’m going to keep it.

The best part of diving deeper into the world of bots, is that you don’t have to look to far before you realize this is nothing new. There have been chatbots, searchbots, scrapebots, and formbots for many many years. Which really completes the circle of life if you realize there is already a thriving market for anti-bot technology, as demonstrated in this email I received the other day:

I wanted to follow up with you and see if you might benefit from an easy and accurate way to protect your website from bad bots, API abuse and fraud.

With Distil Networks, you can put an immediate stop to competitive data mining, price scraping, transaction fraud, account hijacking, API abuse, downtime, spam and click fraud.

Website security can be a bit overwhelming, especially with bot operators becoming more sophisticated.

We’ve put together eight best practices for fighting off bot intrusions to give you a solid foundation and complete understanding when evaluating bot mitigation vendors.

Bots have been delivering value, and wreaking havoc for some time now. With this latest support from platforms, new attention from VC’s, and a fresh wave of bot builders, and their pick and shovel merchants, I think we will see bots reach new heights. While I would love for these heights to be a positive thing, I’m guessing with the amount of money being thrown at this, it will most likely be a cringe worthy shit show.

Along with voice enablement, I will be tracking on the world of bots, partly because I can’t help myself (very little self control), but mostly because I think the possibilities are significantly increased with the number of API driven resources that are available in 2106. The potential for more interesting, and useful bot implementations, if done right, is pretty huge when you consider the wealth of high value data, content, and algorithmic resources available available to the average developer.

I am working to remain optimistic, but will not be holding my breathe, or expecting the best in all of this.

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