InfoBots are coming.
April 25, 2001 3:06 PM   Subscribe

InfoBots are coming. I believe we've touched on this before, but now it seems to be moving from concept to reality: Instant Messenger "buddies" that are actually bots. You send them an IM with a question, such as "Hey pal, what's the weather in Thunder Bay, Ontario?" And it IMs you back with the answer, almost instantaneously. No waiting for messy web sites to load, no funky searches to run. ActiveBuddy has been the most, um, active in developing the technology, but they've been working on it forever without anything to show to the public. Now, it's out there, somewhere. CNET is reporting today that an ActiveBuddy beta bot has been live for a few months; you can play with it right now if you know its name. (And if you do know its name, a tip would be appreciated. I've been jonesing for this for a good while.) A more public version is supposed to be out in a few weeks. Here buddy buddy buddy...
posted by aaron (17 comments total)
opencola has a similar application. It functions in a p2p network though. opencola is doing some really cool stuff, but nothing to download yet from them. The website says "Coming Soon"
posted by grambo at 3:34 PM on April 25, 2001

Anyone remember Searchbots? No? Oh, it's because they were kind of lame. (Link will lead to you to a bombardment of Flash, btw.)
posted by Skot at 3:47 PM on April 25, 2001

Radiohead's record company plans to use it, too.
Coinciding with the June 5 release of Amnesiac will be the launch of an Instant Messenger-like device called Active Buddy that delivers band-related content to fans, such as a streaming video for "Pyramid Song" and the Amnesiac track "Dollars & Cents," recorded live in Copenhagen on September 8, 2000. "You'll be able to hear the whole album, download exclusive tracks, watch videos," the Capitol spokesperson said. The software will be available on Capitol's Web site at"
posted by allaboutgeorge at 3:53 PM on April 25, 2001

Wow, Paul Shaffer is from Thunder Bay! First person outside my family I've heard of.
posted by aflakete at 4:41 PM on April 25, 2001

I love this kind of stuff. I'm actually writing an article for a NZ magazine about technology similar to this. There are a few text messaging utils (for GSM cell phones) available here that do similar things. Very cool, and I love that short message based info retrieval is gaining popularity. Death to having to go to a web site to retrieve a tiny tidbit of info. I'd rather type.
posted by benbrown at 5:00 PM on April 25, 2001

I know of something similar, but not for real information. Just for chatting fun. On AIM, bizzarokiehl is a bot that some programmer hooked up to Instant Messenger. He's really weird. Kind of entertaining. Add him to your buddy list, and chat away!
posted by gramcracker at 5:56 PM on April 25, 2001

Infobots for IRC have been around for a while, too. They're kind of a novelty. You just tell them "<botname>, foo is bar", where "foo" is some noun or proper noun, and "bar" is some characteristic you want it to remember. So you can tell your bot "Potsy is ugly", and from then on when someone metions "Potsy", it will spit back the factoid that "Potsy is ugly".

They get old pretty fast, though. Hook one up in a busy channel and people will quickly get angry and annoyed.
posted by Potsy at 6:29 PM on April 25, 2001

More thoughts: If only you could run your own little active buddy that had access to your personal data. Mmm. What I wouldnt' do.
posted by benbrown at 6:42 PM on April 25, 2001

Doesn't seem it would be too hard to build one of these using the Net::AIM Perl module...
posted by benbrown at 6:47 PM on April 25, 2001

so the beta activebuddy was called abpulverdemo and it totally rocked - it was completely addictive - don't think that one's live anymore though...can't wait to see what they do next.
posted by judith at 8:30 PM on April 25, 2001

Great link! It sounds like Actionbuddy will be similar to (but obviously better than) the availablility of "My Yahoo!" services in Yahoo! Messenger:

"The service meshes the 'chatterbots' that have populated the Net for decades, badly mimicking human conversation, with the database searching functions of an ordinary portal such as Yahoo's My Yahoo service. "

posted by pinkstar at 9:43 PM on April 25, 2001

I wonder if these will work as well as Ask Jeeves, a marvel of modern AI programming. So long as certain keywords of what you're looking for have been sponsored by the appropriate people and you don't phrase your question too naturally, it might just work.
posted by daveadams at 9:43 PM on April 25, 2001

Ben, I think that's what happens when you get married...
posted by fooljay at 10:23 PM on April 25, 2001

I couldn't find any abpulvers signed on anywhere. (Nor any bizzarokiehls.) C'mon guys, this is MeFi. Someone's GOTTA know!
posted by aaron at 6:39 AM on April 26, 2001

"The service meshes the 'chatterbots' that have populated the Net for decades, badly mimicking human conversation, with the database searching functions of an ordinary portal such as Yahoo's My Yahoo service. "

posted by rodii at 7:20 AM on April 26, 2001

Who needs a bot?

When I need a question answered, I just enter in a random ICQ number. 9 times out of 10 the person is so flabbergasted that they look up the answer for me.
posted by bondcliff at 9:48 AM on April 26, 2001

But the other time you get Lowtax.
posted by rodii at 5:10 PM on April 26, 2001

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