Steem is an experimental economic system which is still relatively young. The economy has now reached the stage where the market has put a price on the purchase or sale or each upvote in relation to the value of the associated Steem Power. This allows users who want a passive income to sell their upvotes (through delegation to bots for a price) and active users to purchase upvotes from these bots to promote their articles.
This was always going to happen and would happen on the black-market even if restrictions were applied to the bot markets. As such, it's difficult to to counter directly.
It's worth noting that a similar situation existed even before the bot upvotes, which was that larger SP holders simply upvoted within their own circle. This also prevented the stated aim of Steem of finding the best content available.
However the problem of upvote bots seemingly taking over the system can be reduced in a number of ways, two of which are:
A central flagging fund to reduce the profitability of large bot upvotes could also be imposed. The aim would simply be to make large bot upvotes unprofitable and put a cap on the practice. This is unlikely to happen given the cost and the Libertarian nature of the platform.
What do you mean? Bots have been working on the Steem blockchain for a while and they're doing ok. There could be some improvements on the platform in order for developers to build more efficient robots, but overall, Steem does manage robots.
Or do you mean search crawlers such as Google?
I think the Steem platform can easily curb the effectiveness of bots if the developers want to. But it is not to the developers' interest to do so at this point. This is because, bots are necessary evil at this point in time.
The reason is simply because we do not have enough real human interactions right now to make PoB works. There are many Steem Powers that are wasted on inactive accounts. If we kill the bots right now, I think it will be much worse. Hence, I think there's a need for a balance now.
However, I'm hopeful that we will eventually reach a stage where we have enough humans interacting with the platform. And organic votes will topple votes from bots.
Most Steem folks (including me) come here to earn some crypto through posting. When self voting and selling votes with the same amount of sp can be much more profitable than curating others, of course most won't do the latter. The whole situation has to blame the linear rewards since HF19.
But also a lot of Steemians (including me) benefits a lot from the linear rewards, but it also made bidding bots popular and is not really sustainable.