ICT4 Elderly/Automatization in communication

Contents of the module

  • Bots and Chatbots that enable communication;
  • AI user communication possibilities;
  • Bots and its role in social media and politics sphere.

Learning objectives

  • Provide a historical framework of Bots and AI in communications;
  • To provide understanding on how to recognise the different types of bots and what are their functions;
  • Teach participants to better interact with the AI machines;
  • Stimulate a critical opinion on the usage of bots and AI in communications;
  • To provide understanding on the impact bots have on social media and in the public opinion (like in politics).

Learning outcomes

  • Participants are capable of distinguishing between different bots and other AIs in communication;
  • The participant is able to distinguish between bots and regular users and recognises the communication differences between both;
  • The participant is able to identify who to engage in online conversation with (e.g. when to engage with bots and when to prefer communication with humans);
  • The participant is aware of the possibilities that artificial intelligence will bring to customer relations (e.g. one day we might communicate with booking agents that are machines);
  • Participant is able to sustain communication with bots and other AIs (websites, platforms, etc);
  • Participant recognises content created by bots on social media;
  • Participant is aware of the impact of bots in social opinion and political opinion;
  • Participants have a critical opinion that they know how to argument about Bots and other AI in communications.

Learning scenario

Part 1

  • Discussion with participants about bots and AI as a warm-up;
  • Presenting main concepts, functions and usage of bots, supported by slide presentation;
  • Presenting Chatbots;
  • Practical activity: experiment with Mitsuku;
  • Wrap-up and debrief and evaluation.

Part 2

  • Presentation of historical background of bots;
  • A group dynamic exercise to promote group discussion;
  • Slide presentation on Wikipedia bots;
  • Discussion on bots’ impact on social media and popular opinion;
  • Exercise to explore Wikipedia platform;
  • Wrapt-up and debrief and evaluation.


  • Assessment Tasks;
  • Videos;
  • Assignments;
  • Ongoing evaluation;
  • Assessment (test/quizzes).

Following this module learners will:

  • The participant can engage in intentional communication using advanced writing skills, culturally appropriate language;
  • Participant can use different online communication style with active use of netiquette;
  • Participant understand internet slang.

Introduction edit

An Internet bot (also known as a web robot or bot) is a software application that runs automated tasks (scripts) over the Internet. Bots perform tasks that are simple and repetitive, at a much higher speed than would be possible for a human to do.

The term "bot" comes from robot and to be specific, a bot is an automated application that aims to  perform tasks that would be time-consuming, boring or impossible for a human to perform.

In other terms, a bot is a computer program that is designed to communicate with humans. They allow and create interaction between humans and machines, and this communication happens via messages or voice commands.

Different types of Bots that are common in the Internet edit

  • Web Crawlers or Spiders. Also known as spider bots, these friendly and hardworking bots relentlessly roam the web for our convenience. What these spiders do is browse web pages and index them, so that search engines can know what is in them and return accurate results to user queries.
  • Web Scraping Crawlers. These bots are essentially crawlers, but they are used for a fundamentally different function. Instead of helping with indexing, they assist in data scraping or data harvesting, which includes fetching content through crawling, adding it to a database, and then later extracting relevant bits of information for analysis.
  • Text-reading algorithms. Elaborate algorithms can browse text and analyse it according to specific keywords and their frequency within the text, just like humans do, but the speed, the volume and the accuracy of the bot is no match for its human counterpart.
  • Chatbots. Chatbots are algorithms programmed to simulate a human interlocutor in a conversation – their capabilities are tailored to the specific demands of conversation for which they are being employed. Chatbot technology is widely used in virtual assistant software and is expected to increase in the next few years.
  • Video Game Bots. Game bots are AI software algorithms that can interact with a video game and take the place of a human player.

What are chatbots? edit

A chatbot (also known as chatterbots or talkbots) is programmed to work independently from a human operator.

Chatbots are computer programs capable of conducting conversations by text and auditory communication. Programs simulate how a human conversation would proceed. Chatbots can include text -- the response you receive to your customer service inquiry -- as well as audio and video clips.

What are social media bots? edit

Social media Bots are a type of bot on a social media network used to automatically generate messages, advocate ideas, act as a follower, and as a fake account to gain followers itself. It is estimated that 9-15% of Twitter accounts may be social bots.

Fake social media accounts influence popular culture, politics and can create convincing online personas capable of influencing real people. Social media bots can infiltrate groups of people and be used to propagate specific ideas since social media bots can produce messages automatically.

Since there is no strict legislation or regulation, social bots continue to play a major role in politics, public opinion by acting as social media influencers. Influencing public opinion, amplifying a message, catfishing and hate speech are just a few ways fake social media accounts can be used for malicious purposes. This is why it is so important to have organisations like https://openai.com/ who actively work to have AI that respects and benefits all humanity.  They work to have safe and beneficial AI machine that are capable of making human life better without harming others.

Does Wikipedia use bots? edit

A Wikipedia bot is a bot (a common nickname for software robot) - an automated tool that carries out repetitive and mundane tasks to maintain the pages of Wikipedia. Bots are able to make edits very rapidly and can disrupt Wikipedia if they are incorrectly designed or operated.

There are currently 2,327 bot tasks approved for use on the English Wikipedia; however, not all approved tasks involve actively carrying out edits. Bots will leave messages on user talk pages if the action that the bot has carried out is of interest to that editor. There are 184 exclusion-compliant bots, which are listed in this category. There are 301 bots flagged with the "bot" flag right now (and over 400 former bots). There is also a range of tools that allow semi-automated editing of large numbers of articles.

The most interesting situation with bots is when they get to replace humans in areas such as translation or referencing of articles. The upside of this criticism is that each statement in articles created by bots is supported by references, something that doesn’t happen in many other articles. This means that more references are added to Wikipedia by bots than by humans. This is of course not in itself a sign of quality, but it is a start for human contributors to search for more information. As with any article in Wikipedia, the readers can also help make bot-created articles better. This is an issue to explain and discuss with the trainees.

First Session structure edit

The purpose of the session will be:

  • to provide an introduction to a historical framework of Bots and AI in communications
  • to teach participants to better interact with the AI machines
  • to discover the impact bots have on communication and interpersonal interactions
  • to motivate a critical opinion on the usage of bots an AI in communications

Introduction edit

Group discussion

Trainer starts the session by asking some questions to participants like their own experience with bots and other communication algorithms, why they think bots can be useful, what problems arise from bots. This is important to establish a learning field where both trainer and participants come together to discuss a specific topic, bots and AI machines for communication.

Introduction to the session

Trainer makes an introduction to the topic of bots and communication algorithms. In this initial presentation, trainer will explain what a bot is, what are the main functions of bots, the different types of bots and why they can be so useful. This segment of the training session is supported by a slide presentation prepared in advance and shared with participants.

Blind man's bluff with Bots

Class is divided in 2 groups. One team is dealt with cards naming the main different types of bots and the other team is dealt with cards with short descriptions of those different types of bots. All participants stick their card in their forehead without reading it. Participants then walk around the room and when they meet another person they have to describe the other person card until they find the right pairs (types of bots and the right short description).

Mitsuku edit

Participants are invited to access the Mitsuku page and interact freely with it. Participants are encouraged to discover with an hands-on approach (learning by doing methodology), how it is to communicate with a bot and their limitations.

Group discussion

After having the chance to interact with Mitsuku, participants will have a chance to come together again to discuss their experiences with the bot. What are the main things they take away from the experience and what are the main difficulties they felt. The process of sharing personal experiences and learn by listening to the other person’s experience is at the base of the non formal education methodology and it is particularly useful with this target group.

Homework edit

Participants should watch the videos below and comment.

What is a Bot?

How Machines Learn

Debriefing edit

To wrap up the session, the trainer will facilitate a debriefing moment where participants are encouraged to express their questions, doubts, ideas and feelings toward the topics discussed.

Evaluation edit

Participants will answer a small questionnaire to evaluate the session.

Overall duration of the session edit

1 hour and 30 min

References edit

AI vs. AI. Two chatbots talking to each other

What are Chatbots?

Second session edit

The purpose of the session will be:

  • Provide an introduction to a historical framework of Bots and their influence in our personal and social behaviour
  • Facilitate a discussion on the topic of the effects of bots in our political and social choices
  • Discover the impact bots have on social media and in the public opinion
  • Motivate awareness and critical approach to bots and other AI technology

Introduction edit

Review of the previous lesson (5 min)

Trainer will start the session by revisiting some of the topics learned in the previous session. This will allow participants to ask questions, add comments  and consolidate their knowledge previously acquired.

Introduction to the theme of the session (5 min)

Trainer will introduce the topic of bots and their impact in our everyday life and society. How bots can be used to contribute to a common good, how they work for us in the most basic and repetitive functions and how we can use bots to create content in a group, etc.

Cross the line edit

Class floor is divided and a line (ex. rope or tape) is created. One side of the line means “agree” and the other side of the line is “Disagree”. Participants are invited to answer some “provocative” questions by choosing one side of the line. Part of the exercise is to see how many people are in each side of the line as it brings interesting information to discuss. Another goal of this exercise is to make people debate their choices and the reasons behind them. This is a group dynamic that aims to promote a critical discussion.

Bots and wikipedia edit

The trainer explains briefly the overall context of Wikipedia (stats, organisation). Trainer will also explain how the wikipedia community uses bots and their policies toward bots. Special focus will be given to the “Bot Policy” of Wikipedia as they are a great example of a good practice in this field. In a nutshell, Wikipedia policy requires that bots be harmless and useful, have approval, use separate user accounts, and be operated responsibly. This segment of the training session is supported by a slide presentation prepared in advance and shared with participants.

Bots, social media and politics edit

The trainer will introduce a new topic of conversation: the use and impact of bots in the public opinion and social movements. Participants will be invited to read and discuss the article proposed by the trainer.

Related article: We built an algorithm to track bots during the European elections – what we found should scare you.

Collective documentation on a common document on a specific Wikipedia bot edit

Teacher will create a common document that will be shared with all participants. Participants will have to complete a number of simple tasks (like: Find and describe the Lsjbot. What does it do? Who created it? Why did it become famous?) and document their finds in a collaborative way, using collaborative note taking methodologies. Participants are encouraged to discuss their experiences.

Homework edit

Participants should watch the videos below and comment.

How social Bots work

Political Bots Video

Examples of Wikipedia bots

Debriefing edit

To wrap up the session, the trainer will facilitate a debriefing moment where participants are encouraged to express their questions, doubts, ideas and feelings toward the topics discussed.

Evaluation edit

Participants will answer a small questionnaire to evaluate the session.

Overall duration of the session edit

1 hour and 30 min

References edit

Wikipedia bots