The words you are reading were typed by a human.

But for how much longer will the realm of human interaction be made up of solely flesh-and-blood exchanges?

Bot journalists are reporting earthquakes and homicides in California. Bot lawyers are filing appeals through messenger apps. A chatbot version of Joey from "Friends" is bringing a sitcom character to life. And algorithmic editors are replacing the human staff curating trending topics on Facebook.

Automated pieces of software are already proving they can complete various tasks in a faster, cheaper and more reliable way than the humans who create them.

While the development of ever-smarter artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionize our daily lives, the prospect of handing over tasks to robots leaves many uneasy - not least about their future job prospects.

As friendly chatbots mature, they are poised to replace some of the living people we encounter when working, shopping or socializing.

Around 7 million jobs will be lost worldwide as intelligent software and automation surge in the coming years, according to World Economic Forum estimates.

Tech giants like Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are currently racing to build the best digital servant. 

"Bots will be how people get things done," says David Forstrom, Microsoft's head of conversational computing. "Ultimately bots and assistants should be bound to you, available wherever you are, on whatever device, in whatever context," Forstrom says.

Chatbots are being deployed to the front lines of customer service at large telephone companies, banks and insurance firms. Companies are "cutting costs via automation and giving consumers what they want: 24/7 help without having to talk to a human," says Mark Beccue, principal analyst at Tractica, a research firm specializing in artificial intelligence.

The bots even look set to enter our closest personal circles, according to Eugenia Kuyda, creator of the forthcoming chatbot app Replika, designed to be an artificial friend.

"With humans we tend to be more shy and reserved, even when we're talking to our closest friends," says Kuyda. "But with a machine we're pretty open."

Her app promises to be more than a good listener who doesn't lie and doesn't judge. By remembering exactly what you say and how you say it, the Replika chatbot gradually becomes a digital version of its user.

Kuyda believes that someday every person will have a digital copy of themselves in the cloud. These bots "will be able to do things for us, make us more connected to ourselves and our friends. And eventually they will keep us alive," she says.

To many users waiting for the app's launch, this interactive backup of personal memories has already become the best hope at digital immortality.

Kuyda says she was able to bring back a deceased friend as a chatbot using thousands of messages written by him.

Now her company is inundated with requests from elderly people who want to leave behind a digital clone for their relatives. Others want to bring back their loved ones. "I really want to talk to my mom," they tell Kuyda.

But can a quick-learning algorithm ever replace human personality?

A certain breed of Twitter bots has already started to call the authenticity of opinion and conversation into question.

According to a research project on "computational propaganda" in the US presidential election, chatbots passing as humans are being used by "a growing number of political actors and governments to shape political conversation."

These so-called "ballot bots" contributed a third of the tweets supporting Donald Trump's US presidential run, according to researchers.

Another concern surrounding the trend is data protection.

Google and other big players in this area admit to saving much of what we tell their bots. Anyone who has ever said "OK Google" to activate the assistant in their Chrome browser or Android phone can find recordings of their own voice dating back months in Google's settings.

But Google, like most bot developers, says the more we trust bots, the more they can help us. As a virtual assistant, the software must be "able to access your diary of appointments and know a little about your preferences" if it is to help us, says Google's Head of Product Communications in Germany, Lena Heuermann.

While bots are intended to assist and compliment human life, there are also concerns that they could annoy - or even offend.

Microsoft's Forstrom admits "there will be growing pains" for this industry. He should know - in March, his company's flagship chatbot Tay began denying the Holocaust and tweeting that feminists "should all die and burn in hell."

It was promptly put "to sleep."

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