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The AI Bot Strategy That Facebook Can’t Compete Against

There’s an arms race between the tech giants, and a few well funded startups nipping at the heals of their incumbency.

That arms race is to build a general AI. The ultimate virtual assistant, that can understand anything you say, and give you an answer or take action as well as, or better than, a human would.

The players and products are known: Google Assistant, Apple Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Facebook M in messenger, Amazon Echo, Viv.ai, plus a handful of funded startups with various types of general AI projects.

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Well startup land, you want to start your own general AI startup? Unfortunately, the window of opportunity is mostly gone. The talent required to pull it off has already been hired, the patents secured, the partners for capital all claimed.

The only thing unclaimed, is an actual working general AI, but many brilliant people have been working on this for many years and they will get there soon.

While the war is not yet won, the players have long ago been established, and if you are looking to start an AI bot now, it is probably not you.

However, there are ways to go head to head with these giants, and be the David against their Goliath, instead of getting crushed like the cockroach you are.

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Your advantage is in specialization.

General AI will not be able to beat the power of a brand that understands its customers, or the knowledge of a company with domain expertise.

Just like with phone apps, you either need a solid niche, or your bot is an extension of your core business, not the whole business.

There are a few ways to be defensible:

  • Niche Brand. You understand your niche, and your bot serves their needs well. The live music fanatic loves that your bot totally gets her tastes, not like Siri, who recommended that mainstream ear garbage.
  • Domain Expertise. Knowledge, service or product that is specific to a business or industry, and is not available to the general AI. Make your bot an extension of your business.
  • Personality. Your bot adds some excitement to bot life. Siri is so booooring! I’d rather ask weathercat. Note that the general AI will probably have customizable personalities in the future, but maybe yours is more special?

But wait, what if the general AI just incorporates the knowledge of the specialized bot?

They probably will!

Amazon Echo lets developers add skills to their bot Alexa, so it can learn how to respond for your business.

Apple just announced that developers will be able to create apps for Siri and iMessages, which I’m sure Siri will learn a lot from.

Facebook bots talk to customers in Messenger, right next to the M button. I wonder if M is watching and learning?

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In the incredible new Viv.ai demo, they revealed their platform for 3rd party developers. Their general AI will learn from everything developers use them for, and give developers some pretty amazing code generation technologies to work with.

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You can think of this absorption as a bot platform of sorts. The user is talking to the general AI, but your specialized AI owns the conversation.

If your business is otherwise defensible, they will always need you. You have the illegible domain expertise that they need to complete their capabilities.

In the long term, this space may operate a bit more like a market for partnerships, where a business can simply plug their capabilities into the distribution AI.

You just gotta stay ahead of the game.


At Digital Engine, we see a future where every business will be required to use some sort of AI to stay competitive. For now, AI and chatbots are a strategic advantage for both consumer facing and B2B companies.

Talk to our chatbot to schedule a free brainstorming session on applications in your business.