November 16, 2021

For buying a PS5, bots are friends

Bots have a bad rep. Shady manipulators have used these automated computer programs on social networks to spread conspiracy theories, spew vitriol and scam people. But when bots are programmed to do good, they can help us accomplish the seemingly impossible.

Take buying a PlayStation 5. Since the Sony console was released in November, it has been hard to find in physical and online stores, partly because a global chip shortage has slowed down manufacturing of all kinds of tech products, from graphics cards to cars.

As a result, when the new PlayStation appears online on sites like Amazon, Target and Best Buy, it sells out in minutes — sometimes seconds. Sony has said that demand for the PlayStation 5 is unprecedented and that supply constraints could continue through next year. That makes the odds of buying the console feel as random as winning the lottery.

Someone is buying them, though, and the lucky few I’ve talked to relied…

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