SAN FRANCISCO — You already chat with friends on Facebook Messenger. Now Messenger wants you to chat with businesses and get updates from them, too.

That’s the future Facebook pitched Tuesday at f8, its annual conference for software developers in San Francisco.

“We think you should message a business just the way you would message a friend,” Mark Zuckerberg said on stage at f8.

He laughed: “To order flowers on 1-800-Flowers,you never have to call 1-800-Flowers again.”

Facebook handed the more than 50 million businesses on Messenger the tools needed to build interactive experiences, or “chat bots,” that reach the 900 million people who use the messaging app each month.

Chat bots are chat robots — interactive software powered by artificial intelligence often with an assist from humans — that are designed to simulate human conversation. They are popping up on messaging services where you can use them to perform simple tasks.

While they are not yet common in the U.S. and Europe, chat bots have taken off in Asia, where messaging services such as WeChat help users schedule doctor’s appointments, shop for the latest styles, play games or the lottery and send money to friends… see more

source: usatoday