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Definition: chatbot


(chat roBOT) Software that provides a text or verbal interaction with the user in their native language in order to provide help on a website. Also called a "chatterbot" and "virtual consultant," the chatbot is designed to emulate normal human responses. Chatbots are often extremely limited in scope, frustrating users no end. However, with use, the software may be designed to improve over time.

Chatbots vs. Virtual Assistants
The terms "chatbot" and "virtual assistant" are increasingly used synonymously; however, chatbots preceded virtual assistants and generally provide suggestions or answers to questions about a specific topic or product. Chatbots are generally embedded within an app or Web page, whereas virtual assistants such as Alexa, Siri and Cortana are stand-alone, ask-anything programs.

Chatbot First, Human Second
A chatbot often functions as the first attempt at solving a problem before the user is permitted to activate a chat or phone call with a human rep. See GPT-3, Loebner Prize, virtual assistant, expert system and AI.