The Potential Impact of Chatbots on the Art Market

One of the most notable tech trends of 2018 has been the rise of the chatbot.  Chatbots are bits of software that interact with people the way humans expect others to engage them; that is, in conversation, naturally. Chatbot technology is actually quite old. The first chatbot, named Eliza, was created in 1964 at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab, where it remained until decommissioned in 1966. Today’s versions of the technology range across industries. Even the art market.

The most famous chatbot is Amazon’s Alexa, an artificial intelligence-driven service chatbot for the home. In the past three years, they have found their way into critical sectors such as healthcare and insurance. By the year 2020 chatbots will become even more prevalent as businesses find them more cost-effective in handling certain tasks than humans. The art market will hardly remain immune to the trend.


How Chatbots Can Revolutionize the Art Market

Commercial chatbots that use AI such as Botengine, Botsify, Morph, and Bold360 have proven themselves effective when it comes to replacing human agents for simple customer service support.

And in art, we’ve recently become acquainted with the valuation humans are willing to place on pieces created by AI . However, diving deeper into the practical applications of chatbots, online galleries and even art museums are implementing are embracing the technology.

Probably the best-known chatbot in the art market is ArtFinder’s Emma. Emma is an extension of the AI agent ArtFinder uses on its website to match buyers with pieces of art that match their tastes. The company subsequently placed the AI technology on Twitter with a chatbot front-end it calls Emma. Emma takes requirements that users key into to find art matches on ArtFinder. Besides benefiting the customer, Artfinder is now able to give a great deal more exposure to creators.



Additionally, art museums are also adopting this technology at a rising rate. Museums are taking advantage of chatbots to increase engagement and improve interaction with their audiences. One example is the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and their “Send Me SFMOMA” SMS chatbot. The museum’s SMS bot makes the museum’s enormous art collection approachable by responding to users’ requests. Users send a text message to 572-51 with the phrase “send me” followed by a name, keyword, color, or even an emoji. The bot then scans the collection and sends you an image that best fits your requests.

Meanwhile, The National Art Museum in Belarus uses Facebook Messenger bots to try to improve interaction with and provide an online guide to new users.

When it comes to the benefits of using a chatbot for the purpose of engagement and informing, Marni Pilgrim, the Digital Engagement Manager at the Museum of Australian Democracy, has put it into words:

“Using a chatbot as a visitor engagement tool is innovative amongst Australia’s cultural institutions. It acts like history in your pocket and is helping MoAD spark a conversation about the significance of the 1967 referendum. We’re hoping it will be an effective way for people to get the facts, hear Indigenous perspectives on the referendum and reflect on its continuing relevance today.”

Finally, an example of how a chatbot can make artwork more accessible and draw more enthusiasts to the market involves MuseumBot. The bot uses machine learning, data, and archives from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to help art enthusiasts find new and inspiring pieces.


On the Horizon

Searches for information on the internet are increasingly moving to voice, both as in the users and in the response chatbots give. Within the next couple years chatbots may be responding to verbal enquiries about art availability, artist representations, provenance, and more. Though they will not be replacing the security detachments in museums, they will use voice through museum apps to answer questions about individual artworks and their relationships to other pieces in the museum or within an artist’s oeuvre, as an example. As far as art is concerned, chatbots may bring people closer to beauty, instead of deadening it.




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