Facebook Messenger

How the Kia Niro chatbot matches up to driving the real car

A chatbot would never lie to you, right?

That’s what I wanted to find out when I tested a Facebook Messenger chatbot for the 2017 Kia Niro crossover, which recently won the Guinness Book of World Records for the lowest fuel consumption for a hybrid vehicle. (It was an interesting competition, because two people drove across the United States using only around four gallons of fuel.)

Surprisingly, the chatbot is pretty smart. I asked it some basic questions about features and how the hybrid tech works. It quickly provided information about the 103-horsepower gas engine and the 43-horsepower equivalent electric motor (for 146 horsepower combined). The bot even offered a helpful explanation: “My 42kW lithium-ion polymer battery is packed with 1.56kWh of energy.” I was impressed with the level of detail so far.

The bot is not exactly an online brochure that feeds links to the Kia site, although in the end it is definitely a marketing tool. You can ask more detailed questions. For example, I asked about tire size and the bot gave the exact dimensions of 205/60R16 or 225/45R18s (since this depends on the wheels you choose). It also provided the exact size of the fuel tank (11.9 gallons).

Those specifications are helpful, but I wanted to ask about features that I could then test in the real car, since — as I was chatting on Facebook with the bot, the car was sitting right in front of me. Also, while specs like engine size and the fuel tank are important, there wasn’t really a way for me to verify any of that. So, I asked about a few more features.

One is related to wireless charging. It turns out the Niro supports Qi charging in a small cubbyhole below the stereo. The bot helpfully asked if I use an iPhone or Android, then pointed me…

You Can Chat With Albert Einstein’s Facebook Bot Alter-Ego

Albert Einstein is on Facebook, and he’s ready to chat. As a promotion for its new show, Genius, the National Geographic Channel has created an Albert Einstein bot for Facebook Messenger. You can banter back and forth with the theoretical version of the theoretical physicist about life, love, and science—although he’s quick to warn that “I become absent-minded during light conversations that do not involve the physical properties of light.”

Nevertheless, he will tell you all about his long list of lovers and send you plenty of GIFs from the show. The bot is more fun than most—full of puns and pithy…

Robot Lawyer Is Now Offering Free Help to Refugees

DoNotPay—the world’s premier AI lawyer—is now coming to the aid of refugees seeking asylum in the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom. All they have to do is strike up a Facebook Messenger conversation with DoNotPay by simply typing “start.” From there, the free program will help guide users through the process of filing for asylum. On the program’s Facebook page, it boasts, “Our service allows anyone to automatically claim asylum in the U.S, U.K and Canada for free (instantly).”

Joshua Browder, the creator of DoNotPay, has been working on this new refugee asylum service for months. The platform originally began as a way for people to get free legal advice for getting out of parking tickets. DoNotPay was successful to the tune of about 160,000 overturned tickets in 21 months—with a 64 percent success rate. It’s also helped with housing issues, transportation disputes, and payment protection insurance. Still,…