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Microsoft Also Has an AI Bot That Makes Phone Calls to Humans

Xiaoice interacts in text conversations but now the company has started allowing the chat bot to call people on their phones

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Microsoft's beta Android launcher has digital health feature. Pixabay

While Google Duplex, which lets AI mimic a human voice to make appointments and book tables through phone calls, has mesmerised people with its capabilities and attracted flak on ethical grounds at the same time, Microsoft has showcased a similar technology it has been testing in China.

At an AI event in London on Tuesday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella revealed that the company’s Xiaoice social chat bot has 500 million “friends” and more than 16 channels for Chinese users to interact with it through WeChat and other popular messaging services.

“Microsoft has turned Xiaoice, which is Chinese for ‘little Bing’, into a friendly bot that has convinced some of its users that the bot is a friend or a human being. Xiaoice has her own TV show, it writes poetry and it does many interesting things,” The Verge quoted Nadella as saying.

Xiaoice interacts in text conversations but now the company has started allowing the chat bot to call people on their phones.

The bot does not work exactly like Google Duplex, which uses the Assistant to make calls on a user’s behalf but it holds a phone conversation with the user.

Microsoft
Microsoft. (Wikimedia commons)

“One of the things we started doing earlier this year is having full duplex conversations. So now Xiaoice can be conversing with you in WeChat and stop and call you. Then you can just talk to it using voice,” Nadella was quoted as saying.

Humans will be humans and the latest victim of humankind was Microsoft.

Two years ago, Microsoft launched an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered bot on Twitter, named Tay, for a playful chat with people, only to silence it within 24 hours as users started sharing racist and offensive comments with the bot.

Also Read: Microsoft Introduces ‘Surface Hub 2’ for Modern Workplaces

Launched as an experiment in “conversational understanding” and to engage people through “casual and playful conversation”, Tay was soon bombarded with racial comments and the innocent bot repeated those comments back with her commentary to users.

Some of the tweets had Tay referring to Hitler, denying the Holocaust, and supporting Donald Trump’s immigration plans, among others.

Later, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that the company is taking Tay off Twitter as people were posting abusive comments to her. (IANS)

Next Story

Microsoft Acquires Express Logic to Push IoT Dream

Microsoft is getting an established company with a proven product that can help it scale its Azure IoT business

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A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. VOA

Microsoft has acquired San Diego-based software company Express Logic, that makes software for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, to accelerate IoT development for billions of devices at scale.

With this acquisition, Microsoft said late Thursday it will unlock access to billions of new connected endpoints, grow the number of devices that can seamlessly connect to its Azure Cloud and enable new intelligent capabilities.

“I am incredibly excited to share we have acquired Express Logic, a leader in real time operating systems (RTOS) for IoT and edge devices powered by micro-controller units (MCUs),” said Sam George, Director, Azure IoT at Microsoft.

Manufacturers building products across categories — from low capacity sensors like light bulbs and temperature gauges to air conditioners, medical devices, and network appliances — leverage the size, safety and security benefits of Express Logic solutions to achieve faster time to market.

Microsoft
Logo of Microsoft outside it’s office. Pixabay

“Even highly constrained devices (battery powered and having less than 64KB of flash memory) can use Express Logic solutions. Over 9 billion of these MCU-powered devices are built and deployed globally every year, many of which can benefit from Express Logic solutions,” said Microsoft.

Microsoft is getting an established company with a proven product that can help it scale its Azure IoT business.

Also Read- Uber’s Self-driving Unit Gets $1 bn Investment

The acquisition is part of a $5 billion investment in IoT the company announced last April that includes a number of Azure pieces, such as Azure Sphere, Azure Digital Twins, Azure IoT Edge, Azure Maps and Azure IoT Central. (IANS)