From where I am (New York), there seems to be a cyclone of activity around robots, bots, automation, machine learning, AI, etc.  But that would be a prime example of confirmation bias.  I’m a nerd who writes about bots, and does machine learning, and hangs out around other people who do similar things.  I will see basically *any* movie about artificial intelligence – the great (Her), the pretty good (Ex Machina) and the pretty shitty (*cough* Transcendence).  I read all of the articles.  No wonder this topic seems to be everywhere, right?

Because my own perspective is making for an inaccurate perception of trends around these topics, I thought I would pull up some data to see where people are talking about these topics, and what they’re saying.

Query Popularity


When I look at this data, I notice a few things:

  1. Bots are ~2X more popular than AI, which surprised me
  2. Bots used to be much more popular in the early 2000’s
    • I attribute most of this to the popularity of early chat bots (IRC, AIM, etc)

So, we know that lots of people are talking about concepts related to software bots.  Now, let’s look at where these people are.

Bots Around the World

Here’s a look at the cities where the most [bots] queries are coming froms

internet bots query locations

  • Lots of activity in Southeast Asia, especially the Philippines.  My guess is a mix of WeChat bot developers, and good old fashioned social media click farms.
  • Also lots of activity in Turkey.
  • The United States is not well represented. No cities in the top 10 for query activity.

Here’s where [artificial intelligence] queries are coming from:

cities querying artificial intelligence

  • Again, huge interest coming from the Philippines.

And here’s where [machine learning] queries are coming from:

cities querying machine learning

  • This shows some of the cities that I would expect:
    • Cambridge
    • Pittsburgh
    • San Jose
  • Southeast Asia again is well-represented
    • India
    • Vietnam
    • China

All of this data reflects a specific moment in time, and it’s going to be interesting to see how that changes.  I expect that things will change quickly, especially after Facebook announces its bot platform at F8.  I’m going to be looking for “facebook bots” searches to spike massively.

facebook bots searches