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Sunday, March 19, 2017

One year after Tay, Microsoft is still big on bots — and here is where it’s focusing now | GeekWire

Photo: Geof Wheelwright
"Microsoft has learned a lot about chatbot technology since the unfortunate rollout of the short-lived “Tay” chatbot one year ago this week, when Internet users were able to teach Tay to make racist and misogynistic remarks." according to Geof Wheelwright, longtime contributor to magazines, newspapers and news web sites in the UK, Canada and the United States.

Xuedong Huang, Microsoft technical fellow of artificial intelligence, spoke at the AI NEXT conference in Bellevue, Wash., this weekend.
GeekWire Photo / Geof Wheelwright

This weekend, the company offered insights on the lessons learned from that experience, as well as the huge amount of artificial intelligence work Microsoft is now undertaking.

With encouragement from CEO Satya Nadella, the company’s artificial intelligence team moved on from Tay and started offering a new chatbot aimed at millennials called Zo late last year. Zo is based on the company’s popular XiaoIce Chinese-language bot (which Microsoft rolled out on WeChat in 2014).

“Tay is gone, Zo is the one we are embracing and supporting,” said Xuedong Huang, Microsoft technical fellow of artificial intelligence, during a presentation on Saturday at the AI NEXT tech conference in Bellevue, Wash. “AI is (about) learning from data. We learned from what happened. (With Tay), we didn’t do a super, super good job. With Zo, we are doing a much better job.”

Microsoft doubled-down on artificial intelligence last fall with the formation of a new 5,000-person AI and Research Group.

Huang demonstrated a number of major applications of Microsoft’s AI and chat technologies, including a new implementation Microsoft is now using on its company-wide support website. He showed how you can just click on the “Get started” button to start an immediate chatbot session. Once in the chat, you can ask questions such as “How do I upgrade from Windows 8?”

In the demonstration, not all the answers provided the best possible resolution to the question, but Huang says it is a work in progress and does demonstrate the promise of the technology — and the way Microsoft is committed to using bots to meet mainstream enterprise business requirements.

Source: GeekWire