Botler

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Botler is a prototype Slack Bot that acts as an office’s ‘Butler’, checking in with users about their preferred snack/lunch options, and automatically ordering the snacks each week based on changing inputs.

Given the rise of intelligent agents across industries, this prototype seeks to explore what mechanisms and design patterns best allow people to quickly communicate their preferences to bots that can work on their behalf. In addition, Botler tests the level of comfort users have relinquishing their agency to bots, especially regarding them making financial decisions on a users behalf.

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I imagine that the design-pattern of an intelligent agent (bot) as metaphorical butler may be one of the most successful use cases moving forward. Butlers manage access to their employers (think calling cards) and make basic financial decisions related to ongoing household needs (think robot managing a network of Amazon push buttons). As information rises in complexity and volume, humans increasingly feel overburdened managing alerts, push-notifications, emails, not to mention day-to-day physical chores. Combined with an ongoing shift towards overarching conversational interfaces over individual apps, intelligent agents may be the answer to how we might collect, prioritize, and handle the myriad data streams of modern life.

Check out Botler’s Code!

See the (very) quickly produced video.

Contributors: Dana Martens, Suzan Brandt, Richard Hyun, Noa Kaplan

Botler was created in a three-day exploratory sprint as part of the IDEO CoLab Summer 2017 Fellowship in San Francisco.