May 26, 2017

Announcing FactorBot Version 1.0 Beta

BYGautham Sarang

Our first version of the FactorBot is ready – well almost ready. In human terms its a 5 year old child. But unlike a human child, we must send it out to the world because thats where it will learn and come into its own. Therefore this release.

Why are we doing a bot ?

  1. Because we believe that the next generation of Human Computer Interaction will happen purely through conversations – and messaging (and other AI interfaces) will significantly replace current UI.
  2. Because news creation and news delivery is about to be disrupted by #1 above.
  3. Because this means we don’t need an app anymore. Our readers and us – we can stay connected through conversations.

But the main reason we are doing a bot, is because millennials speak in short messages and visuals (videos, images, gifs) – And, through a bot we can do visual story telling for the millennial.

A chatbot is a mode of communication that was born for mobile, thrives on intense personal experiences and is constantly connected to the user. Don’t we as media people want exactly those three things ?

What can FactorBot do right now ?

These are early days and our bot doesn’t do a whole lot. But it does the basics –
Want to know the top stories we have done ?

Sure, just say Hello to our bot and it will give you the option.

Want to know if we have done a story on something you are interested in ?

Ask for stories on that topic

Want to find out what the folks at FactorDaily are reading daily ?

Ask for curated news – the FactorBot picks it from our slack channel

Want to subscribe to our newsletter ?

Just say I want to subscribe, or something similar and FactorBot will take care of it.

What FactorBot cannot do – yet

The FactorBot is still learning new sentences, structures and intents. It has limited understanding of natural language – the way we humans converse. Like anyone else, FactorBot will stumble if

  1. you try to be mean to it and say nasty things. 🙂
  2. you try to ask complex questions or sentences.
  3. it comes across a pattern it has not seen before.
  4. it cannot find results in our search index, curated index for the terms you asked.

More than a bot – an intelligence layer

Imagine a future where as stories are written, a piece of code listens to them and understands them. It listens to conversations on twitter and watches for images on Instagram or google trends and connects these with the stories. As the story is written, the bot learns about it.
Then it goes out and seeks people who will be interested in those stories. It @mentions them on twitter or it pings them on messenger or on Facebook. It notifies them via email (if they have shared email ids) or it follows them on Instagram and shares visuals with them. It brings people to the platform and more importantly, it takes our content and sends it to the right people across the web.
This piece of code is manifested as a set of bots, all powered by an intelligence layer. On one side of this layer are the story-tellers writing awesome stories and on the other side are the readers. This layer smartly connects, pushes, alerts, converges all conversations on both sides.
This is where we want to head – this is the future of story-telling that we are betting heavily on – and today is the first day of working towards that future. A future where bots talk  to one another, exchange stories and serve the right stories to the right people.
Sure, All of this has happened in the past in bits and pieces.
But why this is so exciting and new is not because of the technology alone – it is because technology and human behaviour are converging in an unprecedented way – such large number of people have not in the past spent such large amounts of time on chat conversations at the same time.
Therefore this bot – its a baby step. Its not ready yet – and I quote – This is definitely not the end. This is not even the beginning of the end. This is just the beginning of the beginning.
We bring you FactorBot version 1.0 Beta.  Head over to – Lets be friends forever.

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Gautham Sarang is a writer of FactorDaily.