Internet Bot
A bot is common parlance on the Internet for a software program that is a software agent. Bots interact with other network services intended for people as if it was a real person. One typical use of bots is to gather information. The term is derived from the word “robot”, reflecting the autonomous character in the “virtual robot”-ness of the concept.
(Wikipedia. Internet Bots. – 3/7/05)

Bot in reality is a pretty generic term covering a wide range of programs. Examples include:

  • Search engine bots – which crawl the internet databasing sites for engines like google. Also referred to as Spiders / Crawlers / etc. Best example of this is the famed Googlebot.
  • SPAM – Spam bots crawl webpages, discussion boards, usenet (does that even still exist?) and Chat gathering e-mail addresses for Spammers to use.
  • Games – Bots are used in a couple ways here:
    • massive(ly) multiplayer online role-playing game or MMORPG – Bots are used to allow players to continuously develop (level) characters at all hours of the day or night. Since leveling is related to repetitive tasks, they simply program their bot, throw the switch and walk away. This is illegal behavior in all games. To combat it the creators have implemented a series of anti-automation steps or Nerfing the game. These type of bots are often commoditized on places like e-bay
    • First person shooters – Have two types: Aimbots (used in shooter games to assist aiming) and ‘playerbots’ (which function as a teammate/partner player)
  • Personal Messaging – These bots play “human” simulating a chatter on Instant Messenger, Chatrooms and Discussion Boards. Often referred to as Chatter Bots.

I’ll be researching the Personal Messenger bot types.
Why this type? I’m particularly interested in the implications of machines that lead you to believe that they’re human. Chatterbots are typically scripted to vehimently deny the fact that you’re talking to a program
As to how did this grow out of the webcam research… gimmie a day for an explanation.