Published: November 20, 2019
Author: Samuel Bocetta
The top-level .BOT domain was launched by Amazon in 2018, and has quickly become a success story. The domain is designed to accompany Amazon’s strategy for community-led AI development.
It does this by allowing the developers of bots to publish their creations on a searchable domain. Bots are small, AI-driven pieces of software that allow users to interact with their devices in new and intuitive ways. Some of the most popular bots have been those developed for Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant, which add functionality to the base AI that Amazon provides.
The .BOT domain has gained huge popularity among device skill and bot developers since it gives their bots a defined online identity. Building on this success, Discover.bot is now creating a community space for developers to come together and share their skills.
In this article, we’ll look at the growing community of bot developers, the importance of the .bot domain for them, and how Discover.bot is providing a valuable resource for this community.
Bots and Skills
In our previous look at the .BOT domain, we focused on just one type of bot: those made to work with Amazon’s Alexa. The AI-driven personal assistant, paired with the Echo, has quickly cornered the market for smart speakers. So quickly, in fact, that even Amazon has been surprised by its success.
As we’ve reported, the HOME.BOT site was created to provide a searchable database of Alexa skills, and provides a great way for skills developers to publish their branded bots. The role of bots is not limited to Alexa skills, though. Bots are now being developed that are designed to work with a huge range of other systems, from the productivity suite Slack to video games. Utilizing the .BOT domain will be critical to the success of these bots.
The .BOT Domain
Amazon created the .BOT domain for a very practical reason: the phrase “bot” was the fourth most-registered domain keyword within the .COM domain in 2016. This clearly indicates that there is a growing interest in developing and publishing bots, and suggests that a centralized repository for them would be of critical importance for developers and consumers alike.
The .BOT domain offers a number of key advantages for bot developers. First and foremost, there have been significant concerns over the security of bots developed by third-party developers. These have contributed to broader privacy concerns about Alexa, and to a growing awareness of the problem of spyware in the IoT. Because .BOT domains are limited to verified publishers, this domain provides them with a way of proving that bots are legitimate and safe.
.BOT domains also allow bot developers to give their creations a static Internet identity. Not only does this help developers to brand bots in ways that are appealing to consumers, but also to provide customers with bespoke support. In addition, having a dedicated domain name allows for easier SEO for developers.
In other ways, a .BOT domain works like a standard website domain and comes with all of the security adaptability of a standard website. Owners of .BOT domains can add SSL certification or TLS certification in an identical fashion to other websites, and thereby improve the security of their sites. Setting up and securing a site with SSL is a fairly straightforward process, and every website should be using these protections today. .BOT domains are also compatible with a wide range of Content Management Systems (CMSs) that most people in the industry are already familiar with. All of these factors make the .BOT domain a powerful tool for publishing software.
Building A Community: Discover.BOT
It is in this environment that Discover.BOT has been launched. The site aims to capitalize on the growing interest in bots and the subscription-based software (SaaS) model. Like many other SaaS applications, Discover.BOT is built on Amazon Registry Services, and its concept for the site is ambitious. The site aims to provide a central resource center for professional bot developers and enthusiastic amateurs alike. It has been carefully designed to be platform agnostic, in order to encourage participation from as many community members as possible.
Though the site is still quite new, it has already amassed widespread support from the community. This is not surprising, given the size of the bot development community and the lack (until now) of a dedicated space for them to share resources and skills. At the moment, the site is focusing on publishing articles and guides on bot development, but as it develops it is expected that it will also become a space for developers to share creations. Besides the intention to build a community, the site also acts as a powerful advertisement for the .BOT domain, and stresses that bot developers should take advantage of this domain.
The .BOT Revolution
At the broadest level, Discover.BOT is the clearest indication yet of what Amazon plans to achieve with its AI strategy. The site, in building a community around bot development, is actively encouraging amateur developers to try its hand at designing and testing its own bots.
If this strategy works, it could have huge implications for the way in which AI technologies are used. AI solutions are already disrupting B2B marketing, but to date have been designed and built by tech giants. If Amazon can encourage everyday enthusiasts to create AI tools, we may see an explosion in how common these tools are, and what they are capable of. In this context, Discover.BOT is clear sign of things to come.
We will keep you posted as Amazon continues to develop the .BOT Online Space. To learn more about .BOT, please visit https://www.encirca.com/bot/
Samuel Bocetta is a former security analyst for the DoD, having spent 30-plus years bolstering cyber defenses for the Navy. He is now semi-retired and educates the public about security and privacy technology. Much of his work involved penetration testing Navy ballistic systems. He analyzed networks looking for entry points, then created security-vulnerability assessments based on findings. He also helped plan, manage and execute sophisticated "ethical" hacking exercises to identify vulnerabilities and reduce the risk posture of enterprise systems.