Bot Invasion: Automating The Web

Bot Invasion: Automating The Web

We explore the fascinating world of bots: tiny programs that automate tasks on the Web. We look at the legal, ethical and privacy questions bots raise, and find out how they're decoding formulas that companies use to pigeonhole us.

When an earthquake shook Los Angeles on March 17, the first news report wasn't written by a human, it came from a program named Quakebot. This automated algorithm is just one of millions of tiny programs called bots that can do tasks faster on the Web than their human creators. From crunching data and patrolling websites, to making jokes and writing poetry, bots can be as humorous as they can be malicious. While their presence on the Web has raised fresh legal, ethical and privacy questions, bots are also shedding light on how companies personalize our experience on the Web. We explore the fascinating world of bots.


Alexis Madrigal

Senior Editor, The Atlantic; Author, 'Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology' (2011)

Darius Kazemi

Computer Programmer

Ryan Calo

Assistant professor of Law, University of Washington

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The Kojo Nnamdi Show is produced by member-supported WAMU 88.5 in Washington DC.