Machine learning is one of the year's buzzworthy technologies, with several applications of it showing tremendous potential to change nearly every industry. Most consumers will encounter this technology through chatbots. Chatbots are proving to be fun, digital toys for the programmers, but they're also a boon to businesses using them to supplement human customer service and increase sales.
A chatbot is basically an artificially intelligent system that you interact with via text. Online businesses have been using these for various customer service functions for quite some time. It's common now to see a chat button on the bottom corner of a website that opens a chat window to a chatbot.
These are typically rules-based programs that respond to certain words and phrases with a preprogramed reaction or message. They have a specified and simple structure, much like a phone tree, and for customer service purposes, will usually hand users off to a human representative after it gathers some basic information.