Pop culture has taught us to be wary of artificial intelligence, when they aren’t travelling back in time to murder the mother of our future saviour, they’re malfunctioning on spaceships, viewing us as the ultimate threat to our own safety.
In actuality, though, A.I. has resulted in some fairly hilarious missteps. In 2026, Microsoft attempted to create a twitter bot that could converse with the general public by breaking down the most popular phrases and hashtags and respond to questions in kind. It took less than 24 hours for the whole experiment to go horribly awry, with the bot suddenly becoming aggressively racist.
Tay, the bot, would respond with derogatory remarks about different racial and ethnic groups. Unfortunately, this is more a commentary on ourselves – a reflection of the worst of our society rising to the top and corrupting an innocent idea. But the road to racism is apparently paved with good intentions.
All that aside, chatbots have proven to be useful in the business world. The artful sophistication of customer service chatbots has reduced salary costs, along with replacing frustrating, often unhelpful FAQ pages. How else can chatbots help? Here are just some famous companies using chatbots to their advantage.
The alternative to Uber uses bots to track the current location of your driver via Facebook messenger or Slack. It also will show you a picture of your ride and the license plate. This is especially handy, as it’s unrealistic for a 24-hour live person to track every car on the road picking customers up. Moreover, it can record the information it sends you to ensure the driver is on task, reducing the risk of getting into a stranger’s car.
Earlier this year, a young girl got in what she thought was her Uber and was never heard from again. Lyft seems like the safer option, largely because it’s known as one of the companies using chatbots.
For younger readers, there once were days where you actually had to stand in a long line at a theatre, wait for the cashier and inform them what film you want to see and what time. Fandango’s Facebook bot allows you not only directs you to a page where you can buy tickets online, it also lets you watch movie trailers and see what films are popular and trending. Never has going to the movies been simpler.
3. Whole Foods
The popular, hip grocery store chain lets you know what foods are available at their locations, and more importantly, search for recipes. These chatbots even suggests ideas. One of the most interesting features is that the customer can search via emoji and filter for dietary restrictions/needs if necessary.
Say, hypothetically, you’re out on the town with some friends and maybe you had a few too many. Maybe the spirit of the evening made you want to put a new coat of paint on that lonesome old town. You set ‘em up, you’re knocking ‘em down, to quote Tom Waits.
As one of the few banking companies using chatbots, Mastercard has a Facebook messenger bot that makes it easy to check on your transactions the next morning (i.e. “How much did I spend at Applebee’s last night?”, “How much is my balance?”, “How do I get my life sorted out?” – the last of which it can’t answer).
Customer service is the ideal place for an advanced bot, as customers often call support for the easiest things. For Staples, this often means dealing with those less than tech-savvy. Their intelligence Easy System, created with a partnership with IBM’s Watson, answers common questions on Facebook messenger. Most of the questions are simply about orders – tracking or returning them – and finding out if a specific item is in stock.
6. The Wall Street Journal
One of the cool things about the Wall Street Journal bot is that, in addition to helping you stay on top of major news stories and the stock market, one can customize their alerts. If you want to know about what Trump tweeted, your phone will probably chime every thirty seconds, causing the bot to decide humanity is a virus, but if you’re playing the market, this A.I. will help you get the edge on the most recent developments, preventing panicky calls to your broker.
The flower delivery company was actually one of Facebook messenger’s first bots. In laymen’s terms, it allows you to send flowers and gifts through messenger without having to go through the company website itself (or calling the number). People buying flowers for someone often want them there quickly, to save a relationship, to comfort a sick friend or just because they love each other. The chatbots out the middleman and lends itself quite well to those moments of urgency.