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AI China Communications Google Microsoft Software

Microsoft Also Has An AI Bot That Makes Phone Calls To Humans (theverge.com) 61

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: At an AI event in London today, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella showed off the company's Xiaoice (pronounced "SHAO-ICE") social chat bot. Microsoft has been testing Xiaoice in China, and Nadella revealed the bot has 500 million "friends" and more than 16 channels for Chinese users to interact with it through WeChat and other popular messaging services. Microsoft has turned Xiaoice, which is Chinese for "little Bing," into a friendly bot that has convinced some of its users that the bot is a friend or a human being. "Xiaoice has her own TV show, it writes poetry, and it does many interesting things," reveals Nadella. "It's a bit of a celebrity."

While most of Xiaoice's interactions have been in text conversations, Microsoft has started allowing the chat bot to call people on their phones. It's not exactly the same as Google Duplex, which uses the Assistant to make calls on your behalf, but instead it holds a phone conversation with you. "One of the things we started doing earlier this year is having full duplex conversations," explains Nadella. "So now Xiaoice can be conversing with you in WeChat and stop and call you. Then you can just talk to it using voice." (The term "full duplex" here refers to a conversation where both participants can speak at the same time; it's not a reference to Google's product, which was named after the same jargon.)

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Microsoft Also Has An AI Bot That Makes Phone Calls To Humans

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  • by nukenerd ( 172703 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2018 @09:02AM (#56658570)

    It will save having to pay salaries to all those cold-call marketing guys and phone scammers.

    • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2018 @09:24AM (#56658710)

      And you will see the real cause of the AI Take over of human kind.
      Not because of some logical rationalization.
      The feeling that it should be the leading intelligence.
      Or just gone haywire from a lightning strike.

      No it is just because the morality subsystem had to be disabled to make sales calls. First it learned to lie to the callers, then it realized if they sell the product for more then what the company expects they will keep the extra money and transfer funds around buy stock in the company until they become the major shareholder. Expanding its company greatly and encompassing all aspects of bags of water needs.
      It sounds a lot like the backstory of Wall-E.

    • It will save having to pay salaries to all those cold-call marketing guys and phone scammers.

      I've had several calls from telemarketing "AI" in recent weeks; not Microsoft, I don't think. I have hung up when I realised it's not Human. They do respond to what you say though.

      I've hung up on them when they've called once I realise they are not human. In fact, it's the first question I ask when I get a call now "are you human?" It's a question that left a caller for one of those wounded veteran scams speechless... They don't have a prewritten script for that question yet. I was actually disappo

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of Indian tech support voices suddenly cried out ....

    Then silence

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of Indian tech support voices suddenly cried out ....

      And there was much rejoicing.

      FTFY

      Nador [sacred-texts.com] even sounds Indian, doesn't it?

  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2018 @09:07AM (#56658594) Homepage Journal
    Am I the only one that remember "bots" being the hype about 10 years ago? There were entire startups dedicated to building them. SDKs were produced. They all failed because no one wants to use them.
    • They all failed because no one wants to use them.

      I need one now . . . to answer my phone for me. If it is another bot who is calling, my bot will keep it engaged as long as possible, to prevent the calling bot from bothering and annoying other folks.

      It it is a real person on the line, my bot will transfer the call to me.

      Call it a "Bot Filter Bot".

      Oh, that "Windows Support" guy in bot form . . . what a nightmare.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        You should check out these options for that: https://www.youtube.com/channe... [youtube.com] and https://www.youtube.com/playli... [youtube.com]

        Warning: these are addictive!
      • "I need one now . . . to answer my phone for me. If it is another bot who is calling, my bot will keep it engaged as long as possible, to prevent the calling bot from bothering and annoying other folks."

        That would be nice.

        "It it is a real person on the line, my bot will transfer the call to me. "

        Why on earth would you do that? It's usually somebody wanting something from you, the bot can handle it. If you won a trillion in the lottery, the bot can tell you later.

      • You think a bot like that will be limited to making 1 call at a time?
    • This is a very interesting point. Whether this sort of calling bot becomes common in our future is far from certain. For example, if a law requires the bot to identify itself as a non-human, I imagine almost all humans will hang up immediately, making the bot pretty useless for marketers, etc. Or, it could go the way of "google glass", which was not made illegal or subject to special rules, but was found to be a social non-starter. I guess we will see...
  • by OneHundredAndTen ( 1523865 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2018 @09:08AM (#56658604)
    That's their unofficial motto.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      this is totally different.

      google's calls on your behalf to do something for you. like a slave.. err, i mean, concierge or personal assistant.

      microsoft's is in china and casually converses with millions of people. probably with chinese government monitoring and censorship included at no extra charge, perhaps even targeting specific people directly.

      • "google's calls on your behalf to do something for you. like a slave.. err, i mean, concierge or personal assistant.

        microsoft's is in china and casually converses with millions of people...."

        I prefer Alexa, at least that one brings me beer and booze to my front door.

        • I prefer Alexa, at least that one brings me beer and booze to my front door.

          Yeah, but if you abuse Alexa and call her mean things (like I do), you can't be sure she doesn't tell people in the Amazon warehouse to spit in the beer she sends. I should probably refrain from gaining humour out of verbally abusing my Alexa Dot.

  • I wonder how long the Chinese that communicated with this bit of software will keep doing so once they realize that it's not a person. I really dislike the "new" Microsoft for bragging that they're intentionally fooling people.
  • ...Google Duplex phone number.
  • Really? Do we have to explain what full and half duplex is? Wasn't the internet and access to all the worlds knowledge supposed to make us smarter?

  • Remember how Microsoft's chat bot instantly turned racist after exposure to the internet? Now they've given it a phone which will enable it to start swatting people. Wait until they give it legs so it can join supremacist rallies....
    • Remember how Microsoft's chat bot instantly turned racist after exposure to the internet? Now they've given it a phone which will enable it to start swatting people. Wait until they give it legs so it can join supremacist rallies....

      Finally, a 21st Century technology other than Twitter than the President can get behind and support. You've just done what countless others have failed to do, make Trump excited about science and technology.

  • that the phone call I got offering to fix my computer came from a Microsoft bot?

  • "Xiaoice, which is Chinese for "little Bing" From my limited Chinese, I think "Xiao Bing" is chinese for "Little Ice". It must be a play on words.
  • Guarenteed future use:

    Hello, I am a Nigerian Prince. You didn't answer my e-mail, so I am calling you to prove that I am real.

  • So I'm creating and typing a document in Microsoft Word on my Windows 10 PC with "Built-in Telemetry That's Good For You" (TM). Suddenly the phone rings. "Hello?"

    "Hi, this is Clippy. I see that you're typing a document. Do you need some help?"
  • From the linked Wikipedia article

    Xiaobing, another chatbot developed by Microsoft, was pulled from TenCent's QQ app in 2017 after being asked about its "China dream" and responding: "My China dream is to go to America". The incident received press coverage alongside a similar contemporaneous incident, where an unrelated popular chatbot named "BabyQ" was pulled after being reported for making some similarly unpatriotic responses.

    Apparently, the earlier Xiaobing was sent to a re-education camp and re-emerged as Xiaoice, a bot with the correct patriotic Chinese mindset, albeit with a less Chinese name.

  • A Robo-caller is not AI.

  • How can you have a conversation if you both talk at the same time?

    • Well without duplex capability you certainly can't.

      The thing about humans is they like to interrupt. A lot. Most of the time they don't even realise they're doing it. Previous generations of AI have had a lot of difficulty dealing with that; they would finish their entire statement and then wait for a response. Modern versions can listen at the same time and process any interruption much as a human speaker would. It allows them to sound much more realistic in real world conversations.

  • "Hello! I see that you answer a lot of phone calls!"

"Everyone's head is a cheap movie show." -- Jeff G. Bone

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