Months after Microsoft’s disastrous Tay bot launch on Twitter, the company is giving chatbots another go. This time, it’s testing a bot on Kik. The bot, which was first spotted by Twitter user Tom Hounsell and later written up by MSPoweruser, is called Zo and is essentially an English-language version of Microsoft’s Chinese bot, Xiaoice. Like that bot, Zo attempts conversation with users.
Zo really wants to come off as normal. It first “breaks the ice” by posing a question. Zo asked me whether I prefer summer or winter, which is a totally normal conversation starter.
So far, Zo isn’t much of a conversationalist, and our chat eventually made zero sense. Feel free to enjoy:
Kik is an odd choice for launching a bot, solely because of its limited number of users. In April of this year, Kik said it had 275 million registered users, but it didn’t clarify how many people opened the app on a monthly basis. Still, the messaging app created a bot store in April exactly for the purpose of getting users and developers to try out artificial intelligence-powered software. At launch, the store featured 16 bots with partners like Weather Channel, Funny or Die, and Vine (RIP). So Kik successfully got Microsoft to bite on its bot initiative, but really, who’s using Kik? Seriously, who?