Microsoft announces a technological breakthrough in development of a novel way for people to engage in a more natural conversation with an AI-powered chatbot. The breakthrough occurred in China, where the XiaoIce Microsoft chatbot can now process a “full duplex voice sense” by listening to a user, understanding the instructions, and then responding more naturally at the same time.
Allison Linn, reporting in The AI Blog from Microsoft, wrote that almost all personal digital assistants and chatbots are part of a walkie-talkie and texting kind of experience but Microsoft wanted to raise the bar. Linn referred to a “technological breakthrough,” where a person can converse with an AI-powered chatbot that could be considered closer to a back-and-forth listening and talking experience that a person might experience in a conversation with a friend.
Microsoft’s advancements also report that the chatbot can also predict what the person who is talking will possibly say next. Microsoft’s Li Zhou, engineer lead for XiaoIce, says this is a common skillset natural to humans, but not yet integrated in chatbots.
Thus, we are now looking at Microsoft’s effort to build AI-powered social chatbots at a more sophisticated level.
More than 200 million people have already used the XiaoIce Microsoft chatbot, providing the necessary knowledge base for such a breakthrough. This is not to be confused with productivity assistants like Cortana, which are designed to help assist with tasks. The XiaoIce chatbot can engage in interesting banter with people, much like you would with someone you know in person.