The word is short for “robot”, which hints at its use as an errand runner or assistant for a human being.
Also called spiders and crawlers, especially as relates to bots that work on the internet.
A bot is a computer program that generally emulates a human being performing some routine function with data, such as sorting information, collecting information for shopping, forwarding email, copying data from one computer to another, etc.
Bots usually run nearly constantly, performing their functions automatically, with little oversight by a human being. They also function behind the scenes, invisible to most average users. This combination of boundless and invisible automated activity is what concerns their critics. Little is often known about what a company’s bots actually do in aggregating or transferring data – even to IT staff within that company.
On the other hand, bots make handling the vast onslaught of routine information feasible, keeping down costs in many industries and allowing the tailoring or categorization of information on many web sites.