MICROSOFT HAS TRUMPETED the acquisition of Semantic Machines, a company that is aiming to make chatbots more conversational.
It is thought that Redmond has purchased the company to fold into Cortana in the hope of making it more chatty and less robotic.
The NoCal based company was born out of work that its head honchos did for Apple on Siri.
Microsoft is looking at ways to give Cortana a context of your personal history and interactions which it can use to improve itself as it learns. Say, for example, you had made an appointment with the same dentists, it would start to assume that any reference to the dentist would be that one without further enquiry.
David Ku, chief technology officer at Microsoft AI and Research said: "With the acquisition of Semantic Machines, we will establish a conversational AI center of excellence in Berkeley to push forward the boundaries of what is possible in language interfaces,"
"Combining Semantic Machines' technology with Microsoft's own AI advances, we aim to deliver powerful, natural and more productive user experiences that will take conversational computing to a new level."
All the big voice assistant players - that is to say Amazon Alexa, Samsung Bixby (smirk), Apple Siri, Google Assistant and of course Microsoft Alexa are working to make their products seem more human.
Google, of course, has Duplex which can make natural sounding voice calls on your behalf. It has also suggested it is looking into the idea of giving Assistant a back story.
Alexa is working hard on context and, er, Bixby is a voice assistant made by Samsung.
They do say God loves a trier.
Financial details of the purchase have not been made public.
Cortana, unlike other voice assistants, has not been given dedicated hardware like Amazon Echo or Google Home, but rather is leveraging the number of devices running Windows 10 to create a network.
A delayed integration between Cortana and Alexa has been in the offing for some time, however, it won't be seamless, with Alexa having to "ask Cortana to….." which makes it sound like some weird cyber game of Chinese Whispers. µ
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