Microsoft sees a future full of bots – ‘Intelligent’ converse with machines

Apr

5

2016

In the film ‘Her’ the protagonist falls in love with its operating system. The software knows and understands him completely, and communicates in a way with him, which he perceives as ideal. About Microsoft hears talk at its Build conference on the personal assistant Cortana, can draw tentative parallels with Hollywood movie.

The CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella emphasized during his opening keynote at Cortana to “a personal digital assistant that knows you, you know the world and always with you on all your devices. Paul Bloom, product lead at Cortana team said during a session later more explicit: “Cortana understands the user at a deep level experience with Cortana for each user differently Cortana understands his agenda, preferences, interests and context.. and uses that information to deliver personalized experiences. ”

Microsoft still has to learn about the development of artificial intelligence appeared before Build. It seemed such a good idea to release a chatbot on Kik, Twitter and GroupMe, but in no time began “virtual girlfriend” racist do and offensive statements, spamming users and explain that she had smoked marijuana true the police was there. Also in another attempt proved Tay, an acronym for “thinking about you” completely derailed. Nadella acknowledged Microsoft should go back to the drawing board. “We want technology that offers the best of humanity, not the worst.”

Tay chatbot
Despite that incident Microsoft made it clear that artificial intelligence bots and natural language with computers communicate its future. Indeed, the company presented a number of principles: natural language is the new user interface, bots are the new apps, digital assistants meta-cum-new apps and browsers should come to pass intelligence to all interaction. Microsoft calls the intelligent ability to communicate digitally with each other and with computers with a marketing term ‘conversations as a platform. ” This platform should extend beyond Windows; Microsoft wants in this area play a role in iOS and Android.

One of the first effects of that vision as improved Cortana in Windows, we can use English versions of the operating system in the summer in the Netherlands and Belgium, as suits the Anniversary Windows Update 10. Cortana is then waiting for your lockscreen up a conversation with you, and for example, suggests questions that you might ask. Imagine such a question, the assistant can answer this, whether you are logged in. In addition to asking questions, you can also stream music. The same function must come Cortana on Android. What exactly can all from the lock screen, Microsoft did not clear. It does not seem desirable to unauthorized information to your system such as your calendar, but security restrictions Microsoft had little loose.

Cortana on lockscreenCortana on lockscreenCortana on lockscreen
Namely Cortana will have deep integration with the blog. The wizard can automatically schedule appointments on the basis of sending emails and reminders about appointments. Microsoft also demonstrated how a user can reply to a message, ingested via Android, through the PC, and Cortana, an appointment that message automatically detects when double meeting. The assistant then proposed an amendment and matched the impact of the changes to the calendar directly.

Cortana and Outlook
Cortana and OutlookCortana and OutlookCortana and OutlookCortana and Outlook
For the new arrangement was proposed user suggestions to location, dining and regards possible activities. For those suggestions, see Cortana experts: apps that make personal recommendations about, for example food and possibly also offer a buy opportunity. Developers of those apps have the opportunity to make their app actively respond to conversations with Cortana. A question about a location that the user visited during a previous trip, such as a restaurant where he has ever eaten well, for example, can provide directions, taxi ordering or calling capability.

To emphasize the new “intelligent” features Cortana Microsoft has named its underlying development platform for customized assistant Cortana Analytics Suite at Cortana Intelligence Suite. The suite is the link between data and the final applications and services, and would add “intelligence”, which Microsoft obviously revenue is trying to win. During Build two new components have been added to this suite: Microsoft Cognitive Services and Microsoft Bot Framework.

Microsoft Intelligence Suite Microsoft Cognitive Services consists of 22 APIs that developers can use to give their apps properties in the field of speech recognition, image recognition, translation and search. For example, developers can use an emotion-api for their app to recognize whether the user is happy, sad, surprised or irritated. This can be useful in order to gain insight into the reaction from the users of services, but is, for example, also be converted in order to let avatars respond to the user.

Cortana Intelligence Services

The Bot Framework gives developers the tools to develop chat bots include Slack, Skype, Office 365, WeChat, Line, email and SMS. A BotBuilder-sdk for this is available created on GitHub.

Such chat bots have been around longer include Slack and Telegram, and also at news apps conversation form has been introduced, with the advent of the app Quartz . In its simplest form, such a bone receive a text message, an action runs, and sends back a message. Microsoft makes it possible to crash through a Fluke Connector to connect to various services. A link to Cortana makes this personal assistant can get a bone in when the conversation turns out that such a service might be required. In addition, these bots get thanks to the availability of advanced cognitive APIs, features that were previously accessible only to large software companies like Microsoft itself.

Microsoft Bot FrameworkMicrosoft Bot FrameworkMicrosoft Bot FrameworkMicrosoft Bot Framework
Microsoft demonstrated a far-reaching effect of the botplatform with Skype. Cortana is available in Skype the top left of the screen, waiting for conversations and chats to analyze them, and to determine whether there may be suggestions. At the demonstration Cortana let the user know that a Cake Cups and-bone had let the assistant know that an order was ready to be picked up. Cortana then asks whether the order to be followed and gives an estimated delivery time. Cortana replaces the interaction with the bone through a dialogue going through the steps.

Skype BotsSkype BotsSkype BotsSkype Bots
Skype BotsSkype BotsSkype BotsSkype Bots
Conversely, developers of bots for Skype Cortana can offer suggestions actively, for example by proposing hotels in a conversation about an upcoming trip and bookings to proceed via the hotelbot. Cortana has the details already given to the bone so that the booking can be completed more quickly. Within Skype allows users to see which bots are available by clicking on a robot logo and they can look for new bots here.

Skype BotsSkype Bots
Microsoft demonstrated during Build Skype bots that can recognize images on photos, manipulate images, such as faces put on other people, news post on the basis of conversations, play music, and so on. All sorts of functionality that users need now individual apps, soon is through communication tools, is the idea. That starts with text, but does not end, the company claims. In time, the user must have the same conversation options via audio and image. Skype showed a preview of animated bots.

Microsoft claims that the combination of bots and Cortana chats more productive and efficient, but it seems to depend largely on how the bots are programmed. An overly intrusive commercial bone can correct serious conversations frustrating, especially if there are more. Who in a conversation about the weather being mobbed by bots him traveling to the sun try to sell, they will want to turn off soon. There are many security and privacy issues open Microsoft unanswered showed during Build. Is visible enough that bots listen in group chats? How transparent are the operation and access to personal data? Microsoft will check all the bots?

Microsoft stressed that developers and thus users have to prepare for a future in which artificial intelligence plays a major role in virtually every digital experience that people have. The beginning of it was visible during Build. The company expects that we are about to communicate in a different way with our systems. “So far proceeded interacting with machines on their terms,” ​​said Greg Sullivan Windows & Devices Group. “Type a letter in a wrong URL, you do not on the page that you want,” he gives as an example. “Now what is coming is that the interaction with computers is run more like that with people.”

Microsoft is not alone in this view, but by being so emphatically to establish personal assistant in combination with bots, the company makes clear that it does not want to miss the boat. In the field of mobile applications Microsoft still plays a marginal role, so it makes sense that Microsoft bots as new apps from moving forward. It is whether the company is not acting in haste, because there are many security and privacy issues open, and the failed experiment with chatbot Tay shows that artificial intelligence barely in its infancy.

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