For billions of people, the threat of the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and its variants has precipitated the adoption of new behaviors. Pandemics are radical events that disrupt the gradual course of societal change, offering the possibility that some rapidly adopted innovations will persist in use past the time period of the event and, thus, diffuse more rapidly than in the absence of such an event. Human-machine communication includes a range of technologies with which many of us have quickly become more familiar due to stay-athome orders, distancing, workplace closures, remote instruction, home-bound entertainment, fear of contracting COVID-19, and boredom. In this commentary I focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) agents, and specifically chatbots, in considering the factors that may affect chatbot diffusion. I consider anthropomorphism and expectancy violations, the characteristics of chatbots, business imperatives, millennials and younger users, and from the user perspective, uses and gratifications.



Author ORCID Identifier

James W. Dearing: 0000-0002-4518-3870