Microsoft is acquiring the initiation of conversational AI Semantic Machines in an effort to make smart bots and attendees like Cortana sound and respond more like humans. Founded in 2014, Semantic Machines uses machine learning to make bots respond more naturally to queries. Semantic Machines is directed by Dan Klein, a UC Berkeley professor and Larry Gillick, Apple's former speech chief. Both are considered pioneers in conversational AI.
The acquisition of Microsoft will increase the company's Cortana digital assistant, as well as the company's Azure Bot service, which is used by 300,000 developers. Microsoft has already used a human voice for its Cortana assistant. The software creator worked closely with Halo developer 343 Industries on visual elements and voice actress Jen Taylor for Cortana's voice in 2014. "With the acquisition of Semantic Machines, we will establish an artificial intelligence center for the conversation of excellence in Berkeley to push the limits of what is possible in the language interfaces ", explains David Ku, CTO of Microsoft AI & Research.
Google is also working on a similar human image intelligence. The search giant showed its work in Google Duplex earlier this month, allowing the Google Assistant to call companies and book appointments for hair or restaurants on behalf of Google users. The Google demo opened up a series of concerns about informal human speech and a greater concern for ethics. Microsoft has already had its own controversial problem with its own artificial intelligence thanks to its racist Tay Twitter bot, so he imagines that he will be very careful with what he develops from his acquisition of Semantic Machines.