We Are Living Among Them: How Software Robots Are Transforming Our Daily Lives

Posted: May 29 2018, 4:37am CDT | by , in Technology News

 

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We Are Living Among Them: How Software Robots Are Transforming Our Daily Lives

Technological advancements are usually revered by most people, as progress transforms our everyday lives and changes the way we communicate and build relationships – who would have thought, a few years back, that most of our daily interactions would take place in a virtual world known as social media? Few developments have been feared as much as the advent of robots: people were afraid that robots would take over their jobs and replace them in the workplace. A recent OECD report in March 2018 found that 14% of the jobs that were studied across 32 OECD countries, which translates to roughly 66 million posts, are "highly automatable" – which, according to the research, means that they have an over 70% chance of being automated within the next 15 to 20 years, while a further 32% displays a 50% to 70% probability.

But, as much as manual labor robots have transformed some industries, such as mass scale manufacturing, most robots are not what we expect them to be: they do not walk and talk like a human, nor do they always have a physical presence. In fact, there are many types of software robots, simply called bots, that perform tasks far too complex for us. Without them, many of today’s achievements – and many of the jobs they created – would not have been possible. Here are some types of robots we don’t usually hear about.

Robots Run the Internet

Ever wondered how Google knows exactly what is on each site so that, when you type in your keywords in the search box, you get accurate results? The answer is spiders. More specifically, a type of bot called a web crawler or spider after the imaginary representation of what it does: like a spider, it “crawls” through websites, amassing data of what is going on in them and updating a web search engine’s web content. Web crawlers store and index that information and perform their tasks ceaselessly in order to provide the most up to date content all the time. Google’s very famous web crawler is called Googlebot and the company is relying on it to provide us with the most accurate results.

As a rule, several web crawlers are deployed at the same time so that the content they constantly fetch can improve website rankings. They usually work according to a specific pattern, e.g. they are taught to handle words included in the title or tags as more important and ignore repetitive words like “the” or “and”. These spider bots are essentially an automated script that perform predefined actions. It starts of by visiting URLs that, in spider bot parlance, are called “seeds” and then it works its way through the hyperlinks that it finds on those pages. Yet, search engines are not the only ones employing spider bots – many commercial companies use web crawlers to search for contact details of potential clients so that they can include them on their mailing list and later send them promotional offers.

The Mundane Magicians and the Finance Wizards

The world of finance has always had humans biting off more than we can chew, whether it is in terms of crunching numbers or predicting market flows, which is why it is perhaps one of the industries that turned to automation first, by employing computation machines and large-scale market research. Now, it seems that the industry is turning to robotics to automate transaction processing and reallocate resources to more meaningful tasks. With robotic process automation, software programs are used to perform a variety of repetitive and mundane tasks that are so far entrusted to humans. These tasks are usually very heavily rules-oriented so that software robots can perform them with accuracy. Turning to robot automation can also prevent companies from offshoring in order to cut back on costs, as it is more effective in terms of saving funds than relocating.

In essence, software robots are used as a virtual workforce that allows humans more time to focus on more crucial tasks and supervise the process. Lately, the trading industry and especially binary options trading professionals have also turned to what is known as automated trading, or algo-trading. This essentially refers to software known as binary options robots that uses electronic platforms to enter various trading orders according to an algorithm, executing a predefined set of instructions with no human intervention. A lot of traders, including investment banks, institutional traders, and pension and mutual funds, favor this option, as the elaborate software used requires no analysis by the trader. As for inexperienced traders just starting out, they also rely on binary options robots to gather all the information that they would otherwise need to search for themselves.

The Social Side of Bots

There is always the expectation that robots will be able to interact with humans – and modern-day software bots far from disappoint. There are many types of what is termed “social bots” out there, whose main purpose is to engage with humans on social media. The most prominent example would be Twitter, where a recent study found that 9% to 15% of accounts are not controlled by humans. In a landscape of more than 300 million active users per month, this means that a number between 27 million and 45 million Twitter accounts actually tweet content produced by bots.

Social bots are a subcategory of what is widely known as chatbots – and even if you are not on Twitter, you have probably encountered one of those. They are software systems that can “chat” with a human interlocutor in a natural language (e.g. a language that we humans can speak, too). They are mainly made to assist humans in completing a task or getting information and details with regard to queries they have. As such, they are very often used as a virtual assistant to help humans with buying the right product or booking services online. Employing chatbots also allows companies to have 24/7 customer service, which is mutually beneficial both for the business and the clients.

Bots are all around us, usually in a quiet and very often invisible way. But they are quickly becoming essential for many everyday tasks – and they are here to stay.

This story may contain affiliate links.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/2" rel="author">Luigi Lugmayr</a>
Manfred "Luigi" Lugmayr () is the founding Chief Editor of I4U News and brings over 25 years experience in the technology field to the ever evolving and exciting world of gadgets, tech and online shopping. He started I4U News back in 2000 and evolved it into vibrant technology news and tech and toy shopping hub.
Luigi can be contacted directly at ml[@]i4u.com.

 

 

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