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Thus an illusion of understanding is generated, even though the processing involved has been merely superficial. Some more recent chatbots also combine real-time learning with evolutionary algorithms that optimise their ability to communicate based on each conversation held.

In 2016, Facebook Messenger allowed developers to place chatbots on their platform.

Interface designers have come to appreciate that humans' readiness to interpret computer output as genuinely conversational—even when it is actually based on rather simple pattern-matching—can be exploited for useful purposes. While ELIZA and PARRY were used exclusively to simulate typed conversation, many chatbots now include functional features such as games and web searching abilities. Chatbot competitions focus on the Turing test or more specific goals.

Most people prefer to engage with programs that are human-like, and this gives chatbot-style techniques a potentially useful role in interactive systems that need to elicit information from users, as long as that information is relatively straightforward and falls into predictable categories. In 1984, a book called The Policeman's Beard is Half Constructed was published, allegedly written by the chatbot Racter (though the program as released would not have been capable of doing so). Two such annual contests are the Loebner Prize and The Chatterbox Challenge.

Chatbots are typically used in dialog systems for various practical purposes including customer service or information acquisition.