Microsoft introduced Zo, the next evolution in chatbots, built upon the technology stack that powers Xiaoice and Rinna — successful Microsoft AI chatbots in China and Japan, the new ‘Zo’ is a social chatbot, and help you engage on Kik now in the same way you would interact with a friend.
“Zo is built using the vast social content of the Internet, and she learns from human interactions to respond emotionally and intelligently, providing a unique viewpoint, along with manners and emotional expressions,” expalins Microsoft. She also has “strong checks and balances in place to protect her from exploitation.”
In the future, Microsoft said they plan to bring her to other social and conversational channels such as Skype and Facebook Messenger.
For developers, it’s now easier to create smart bots with new QnA Maker Service, Bing Location Control, the two new offerings designed to make it easier to create smart bots from Microsoft Cognitive Services, were announced on Tuesday.
QnA Maker, created by the same engineers that develop Bing, is a free, easy-to-use, REST API- and web-based service that trains artificial intelligence (AI) to respond to users’ questions in a more natural, conversational way.
The open source Bing Location Control for Bot Framework allows bot developers to easily and reliably get the user’s desired location within a conversation, “all this with a few lines of code,” as the the control is available in C# and Node.js and works consistently across all messaging channels supported by Bot Framework.
Key features include:
- Address look up and validation via Bing’s Maps REST services.
- Address disambiguation when more than one address is found.
- Support for declaring required location fields.
- Support for FB Messenger’s location picker GUI dialog.
- Control is open-source, with fully-customizable and localizable dialog strings, and is available here on github (awaiting your feedback and contributions), microsoft explained.
As part of an Tuesday event in San Francisco, Microsoft also revealed how it’s democratizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) by making it accessible to everyone and every organization, focusing on conversational computing, which combines the power of natural language with advanced machine intelligence to help people engage with technology in more natural and personal ways.
Businesses and governments looking to take advantage of these new capabilities can find significant value in using intelligent bots to transform business processes such as customer services, helpdesks and even factory floor operations.
One example is at Rockwell Automation, which provides industrial automation and information solutions to customers in more than 80 countries. They used the Bot Framework and Cognitive Services in Cortana Intelligence to build Shelby, a bot that monitors production more efficiently and lets managers know the status of their operations through more natural forms of interaction.
Developers can get started with the open source-based Microsoft Bot Framework, which includes the Bot Builder SDK, Bot Connectors, Developer Portal, Bot Directory and an emulator to use and test your bots. As you build, test and scale your bots in the cloud, the Microsoft Azure Bot Service helps accelerate work through an integrated environment that is purpose-built for bot development.