Robots can deliver pizza , drive cars, clean floors, get a drink from the fridge, and do all kinds of other stuff for us. Robots are typically slower than bots. Bots — the software kind — can quickly and efficiently make purchases for us online, schedule appointments, make travel arrangements, and setup family reunions. But are some bots too fast?
MIT Technology Review’s “The Download” column seems to think so in their December 2017 article about how “Bots are ruining Christmas…” I tend to agree. While everyone likes to enjoy an advantage, at what point is that advantage crossing the line into unfair or even illegal (assuming laws are passed on the issue)?
Those old enough will remember the days before computers and bots when people used auto-dialers to call into radio shows in order to be the first person to respond to a quiz question and win a prize.
We’ve seen software for years now in sports and other event ticket sales. Bots buy up all the pre-sale tickets from entertainment venues when it is expected that demand will be high — such as for a pop band or playoff game or even a Spring Training game with the Yankees in Florida. The scalper(s) running the bot then resells the tickets for far more money on the internet.
Now we’re seeing this kind of action for toy purchases around the holidays. Buyers are forced to look for these popular toys for sale on EBay and other sites.
It’s a shame, because it gives people a negative opinion of bots. But bots, at least non-AI ones, are just doing the bidding of their owners. In order to level the playing field and give buyers a chance to compete for toy purchases online, laws should be strengthened or passed to limit the abilities of scalpers and their bots — especially “fast” bots.