Wednesday October 24, 2018
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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 pauses rollout of Windows 10 October update. Pixabay
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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)

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Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen Will Be Remembered

Allen was also owner of the National Football League's Seattle Seahawks, and the Portland Trail Blazers professional basketball team.

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Paul Allen
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen at a news conference (from archives). VOA

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who visualized the indispensability of the personal computer more than 40 years ago, died Monday at 65.

Allen’s family said he died in Seattle of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer he had been battling off and on since 2009.

After persuading high school friend Bill Gates to drop out of Harvard in 1975, the two teamed up to develop a rudimentary software that hobbyists used to operate home-built computers.

Microsoft, paul allen
An advertisement is played on a set of large screens at the Microsoft office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S, VOA

“I expect the personal computer to become the kind of thing that people carry with them, a companion that takes notes, does accounting, gives reminders, handles a thousand personal tasks,” Allen wrote in Personal Computing magazine in 1977.

Allen and Gates called their company Microsoft and spent the next several years developing the software that revolutionized the world.

Allen and Gates split in 1983, but Allen kept his share of Microsoft, making him a billionaire.

Gates issued a statement on Allen’s death late Monday.

Paul Allen
Paul Allen in 2003

“I am heartbroken by the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Paul Allen,” he said.

According to Forbes magazine, Allen was worth nearly $22 billion at the time of his death, making him the world’s 44th wealthiest person.

Allen was also owner of the National Football League’s Seattle Seahawks, and the Portland Trail Blazers professional basketball team.

Also Read: Microsoft Cannot Recover Files Deleted By Windows 10 Update

He also used his wealth to refurbish a crumbling neighborhood of his native Seattle, turning it into a headquarters for Amazon. (VOA)