California Bot Bill Bans Human-Like Robots

A California bot bill, which aims to ban human-like robots, is set to take hold in July 2019. The state is to outlaw online bots that pose as humans, meaning all bots used in the area will need to clearly state that their non-human nature when interacting with people. We’re not talking about a hitch on the road to sci-fi androids just yet, but a move against chatbots and other AI-powered technology currently used in customer-facing roles.

There’s a good chance you’ve come across or been forced to interact with a bot while using the internet before. They’re typically used in online customer service to answer frequently asked questions or to direct customers to more detailed human-led help if needed. With the increasing improvements being made to AI, the line between bot and human is quickly becoming blurry in text-based situations where it can become difficult to discern a bot from a real person.

The California bot bill bans automated (bot) accounts on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, as well as large retailers from using bots to sell products and services to users without first disclosing their bot status.

According to NBC, the state of California’s robot ban will only apply to an “online platform” with more than 10 million unique monthly visitors from the US. These impressive states need to have been maintained over several months before the business in question will need to disclose bots in a “clear, conspicuous, and reasonably designed,” way. This means a little fine-print won’t be enough.

The California bot bill won’t mean much for bots operating from outside the state or in foreign countries, but PCMag sees it as a step toward combating an issue which plagued the 2016 presidential election. The bot bill could help protect voters in the 2018 mid-term elections from having their views shifted by overly political bots with a user-injected bias.