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Slack Is Working on Manager Bots That Will Automatically Check up on Employees

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By Mike Murphy Quartz March 17, 2016

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“Did you get the memo?”

In the future, you won’t be bugged by your manager over Slack for status updates on your work. Slack itself will be bugging you. At a talk yesterday at South By Southwest—the music, tech and media festival in Austin, Texas—Slack founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield told the audience the company is creating bots that will be able to converse with employees, get status updates, and send that information to others in the company. Middle managers: Be afraid.

Since it launched, Slack has had digital assistants built in to the platform. When you start an account with Slack, you’re greeted by Slackbot, the not-very-helpful assistant which can remind you to do things once it’s programmed to respond to certain phrases. In late 2014, Slack introduced a feature to allow anyone to build their own bots and customize them.

Slack’s ability to let companies plug in just about any piece of software they use into the messaging platform has long been one of its main selling points. The business messaging platform has grown exponentially in its first two years—over 2.3 million people use the service each day.

But this new development could see the company building out something more artificially intelligent. When asked to confirm Butterfield’s comments, a representative for Slack told Quartz that this sort of bot is what recent hire Noah Weiss—the former head of product at the restaurant check-in and recommendation service Foursquare—was brought on board to develop.

While details of Weiss’s work are few, Slack has said that Weiss will be working on AI and machine learning products. No word yet on whether that means a Slack-based version of meeting assistant x.ai or something that could pass the Turing test, become self-aware, and enslave the human race.

Productivity is likely to skyrocket either way.

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