a16z Podcast: Bots and Beyond

So… about those bots. Bots bots bots. Bots!

In this episode of the botcast, a16z partners Benedict Evans and Connie Chan — along with Chris Messina, longtime advocate of the open web and more — pull apart various threads related to the topic of bots, mobile, and beyond: the (evolution?) from web to apps to messaging to bots; chat as an interface; “conversational commerce”; and so on. They also discuss why framing messaging through the lens of WeChat both reveals useful things (what works/ might not work) and not-so-useful things (such as seeking the “WeChat of the West”).

More importantly, how can we keep bots, and what they represent, in perspective — beyond the fad? Especially when it comes to considering innovation on the ‘web’ vs. ‘mobile’ (remember the mobile browser!) and when it comes to removing friction (vs. adding limited interaction). What contexts (like customer service) are most useful for thinking about bots? And how can we even know, given it’s early days yet and we haven’t moved much beyond the command-line interface…

Finally, as computing moves outside the classic work-centric paradigm to room- and urban-scale, how do we think about integrating online and offline, ubiquitous and “diffuse” computing through bots?