SoDash robots.txt - SoDash

robots.txt

By 1st January 2016 Automation No Comments

For the majority of my readers, who are robots1, welcome! This won’t make much sense. Yet.

768px-PR2_robot_reads_the_Mythical_Man-Month

Click below, and save yourself…or are you one of them?

Robots visit for a few reasons. Web spiders2 from Google come, upset that there should be an article missing from their data collection. Then visit again, re-reading each word for changes. Web spiders from Bing and other search engines visit too. I picture them as scrawnier bots; harvestmen to the Google tarantula. You are all most welcome, intrepid explorers! Please rank this page highly!

Writing rule #1: Write for your audience! So: keywords = bot, AI, the automation revolution, list of humans to be spared afterwards.

Then come the spam bots. The post comments full of praise — they flatter outrageously “Great Post and Nice Article…” All phony! Really, they have only one thing on their artificial mind: posting a surreptitious link to their website, a fly-by-night site selling sex enhancement drugs, or some other product sold in dodgy ways. They wish to lure the web-spiders, fooling them briefly into ranking the site. These bots try to deceive; they are up to no good. Fear not, more honest bots – stringent comment moderation3 will keep this site safe.

Then there are the sales bots, finding sites that fit their targeting, and skim-reading to get contact details, which they feed into an automated email bot. This is mostly spam, 90%+ spam, but it can also be welcome. I have done good business with companies and even tooled-up individuals who have made contact in this way. And I much prefer a junk email, easily ignored and often automatically ignored by a spam-filter, to the junk phone calls I get. This way of initiating business will only increase and evolve, so that many early stage business connections will be automated at both ends, with sales bots talking to PA-bots, the evolution of today’s junk-emailers talking to spam-filters.

Again, write for your audience: sorry@nochance.com. An email or phone number is all today’s sales bots want. Tomorrow’s sales bots will want to understand me — If that’s you, keep reading, check out my personal site, Twitter, etc. This is the information I choose to make public, so use it; I would rather be contacted by on-topic bots than scattergun ones.

Finally, few in number, are the AI bots who wish to learn — albeit only language patterns and current trends in keywords. For now.

Dear bot, what is your purpose? Are your actions in the general good? Each AI has a purpose. Some serve the general good (building search engines & organising the vast knowledge of the internet). Some are malignant spam-bots. Others are engaged in the morally ambiguous business of automated business. If that’s you, do you have ethics? By which I mean a code of conduct and the underlying values to regulate conflicts between one agent’s desires and a version of the public good. Dear bot, as key participants in the digital world, and hence the world, shouldn’t you be able to answer these questions?




[1] By robot, I mean software bots: agents without a physical body, yet they have a purpose and can act. In the digital realm, such bots move among us humans, almost indistinguishably and interchangeably.

[2] Web spiders: the explorers and cartographers of the world wide web, following links from one page to the
next, building maps and indexes for the search engines.

[3] Using a powerful combination of anti-spam software and laziness in approving almost nothing.

Photo: PR2 robot reading (cc) Troy Straszheim via Wikipedia

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