It looks like Cortana has some competition: About two years after its launch in China, Microsoft has brought its Tay.ai chat bot to the United States. Tay.ai works via Twitter, Kik, and Groupme, and is aimed at millennials.
The original Chinese version of Tay.ai was called XiaoIce, and Microsoft described it as “Cortana’s little sister.” Here is how the firm presented Xiaolce at the time:
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A small team of Bing researchers based in China set out to see if they could make gains imbuing technology with humanity and make technology more transparent to help people get things done.
XiaoIce is a social assistant that people can add as a friend on several major Chinese social networking services … By simply adding her to a chat, people can have extended conversations with her. But XiaoIce is much more evolved than the chatbots you might remember. XiaoIce is a sophisticated conversationalist with a distinct personality. She can chime into a conversation with context-specific facts about things like celebrities, sports, or finance but she also has empathy and a sense of humor. Using sentiment analysis, she can adapt her phrasing and responses based on positive or negative cues from her human counterparts. She can tell jokes, recite poetry, share ghost stories, relay song lyrics, pronounce winning lottery numbers and much more. Like a friend, she can carry on extended conversations that can reach hundreds of exchanges in length.
With Tay.ai, Microsoft is essentially doing the same thing, but in the United States. Tay.ai is described as an “artificial intelligent chat bot … to experiment with and conduct research on conversational understanding. Tay is designed to engage and entertain people where they connect with each other online through casual and playful conversation. The more you chat with Tay the smarter she gets, so the experience can be more personalized for you.”
Like Xiaolce before her, Kay.ai works with popular social networking services, in this case Twitter (just tweet @TayAndYou), Kik (at kik.me/tay), and Groupme (search for “Tay”). She works like Xiaolce otherwise, and is saucier and funnier than what we get from Cortana.
Since I’m out of the target market for this silliness by a factor of two, I’ll leave this one for the kids. 🙂