Seems that Google is not the only company awing us with their feats in AI. In an event held in London, Microsoft unveiled their social chatbot named XiaoIce (pronounced as “Shao-Ice”) which has gained quite a popularity in China.
In its maiden demo, XiaoIce is shown talking to a user and handling the conversation flawlessly by adding nuances like “hmmm”, “mmm” to imitate a human being. The video shows that it even interrupts the recipient in the middle of the conversation to advise her.
Unlike Google Duplex, XiaoIce is a primarily text-based chatbot but can call you if you are feeling lonely. The chatbot was launched in 2014 and has made close to a million calls so far. 200 million users use the bot in Asia, and it has picked up fame in China. According to Microsoft, XioaIce has had more than 1,600 individual verbal exchanges.
“XiaoIce has her own TV show, it writes poetry, and it does many interesting things,” said Nadella and added, “It’s a bit of a celebrity.”
It is difficult to understand why Microsoft has not introduced duplex technology in their own smart assistant Cortana but given the downfall of Tay (Microsoft’s first English language bot), it seems like a right decision. Possibilities are that Microsoft wants to ensure that it does not follow the steps of Tay and Zo by subjecting the new technology to numerous tests.
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Nonetheless, Google has received some serious competition from Microsoft and as a user, I am anxious as well as concerned about the future with smart assistants and how blurry the thin line between human and robot will become.