Microsoft's chatbot Tay may have suffered a racist meltdown last week, but the company is not giving up on AI. According to a report from Bloomberg Businessweek, Microsoft plans to unveil several prototype bots at its annual Build conference later today. These AI-powered programs will further Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's vision of "conversation as a platform," with users able to interact with the bots using natural language, directing them to complete certain tasks.
Different bots will have different functions, reports Bloomberg. Some built into Skype will help users schedule deliveries and book holidays, while others will help the visually impaired by describing facial expressions and reading text from images. Microsoft also plans to rehabilitate Tay (although the chatbot seemed to suffer another minor breakdown this morning), and will also release bot templates to help developers create their own programs.
Microsoft joins Apple, Amazon, and Facebook in the quest for useful bots
Microsoft's ambitions here mirror those of other Silicon Valley giants. Digital personal assistants like Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa have got people used to the idea of talking to their computers, while other companies are building bots into chat apps. Facebook, for example, is developing an AI-powered assistant named M that resides in its Messenger app, while Chinese company WeChat already offers in-app bots that let users book cinema tickets and hail taxis, just by texting.
We'll have to wait until Build later today to find out exactly what Microsoft has in store, but we know at least one program that's coming: a Domino's delivery bot. Bloomberg reports that the bot will be part of the onstage demo, and will be built into Skype to let users order pizzas just by chatting. As long as it keeps its opinions about Hitler to itself.
Google made huge strides with their DeepMind project, which mastered the game Go