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Definition: chatbot


(chat roBOT) Software that provides a text or verbal interaction with a person using native language. Also called a "chatterbot" and "virtual consultant," the chatbot is designed to emulate normal human responses. Chatbots are often limited in scope, although they may be able to improve with use.

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 may also be embedded within an app or Web page, whereas virtual assistants such as Siri and Cortana are stand-alone, ask-anything programs.

A chatbot often functions as the first attempt at solving a problem before the user activates a live chat, email or phone call with a human sales or support rep. See Loebner Prize, virtual assistant, expert system and AI.