In the last year, software application robots (or bots) have become an increasingly popular means for advertising. These automated programs are designed to hold almost-lifelike conversations on instant messaging (IM) services. They pitch eBay auctions, talk up brands of shoes, or provide baseball scores.
Some types of automation software similar to this are already being used in Internet evangelism. In some chatrooms, pre-programmed robots provide Bible verses on command. But will the use of automation technology go further in Internet evangelism? Could Internet bots be used to evangelize? Perhaps, but Christianity Today also wanted to try the reverse—evangelizing an IM robot.
For this summer's release of Austin Powers in Goldmember, New Line Cinema created an Austin Powers bot to answer questions about the movie. CT chatted with the automated version of the spy.
Austin Powers: Hello, CT! I am the Austin Powers International Bot of Mystery. I was built by the Ministry of Defense to serve, protect, and put the grrr in swinger, baby! Yeah!
CT: Hey, Austin bot. Can I talk to you for a minute?
Austin Powers: That's a bit nutty! YEAH!
CT: Do you know Jesus?
Austin Powers: I've heard of him.
CT: Would you like me to tell you about Jesus?
Austin Powers: Difficult for me to say. So moving right along … What else is happening then?
CT: I see you are a little uncomfortable.
Austin Powers: Oh yeah? It's interesting that you see I'm a little uncomfortable.
CT: Do you know you will go to heaven?
Austin Powers: Um … Should I know I will go to heaven?
CT: Yes, there is a way you can know.
Austin Powers: You always say such interesting things, CT.
CT: Would you like to hear about it?
Austin Powers: I'm not sure. Would you like to hear about it?
CT: I already ...