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Microsoft XiaoIce: a massive social experiment in China
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Microsoft released the Chinese version of Cortana, but including other interests in a its new project.

According to Yondong Wang, a senior researcher and scientist working with the company:

“It could be the largest Turing test in history”.

The digital assistant and artificial intelligence was named Xiao Na, included in the release of the Windows Phone 8.1 in China. Developed with the help of Microsoft’s Bing division of software developers and researchers, the artificial intelligence is also designed to offer human-like conversations and can act as a friend on social networks.

A Turing test, is a test that looks to see if a human can detect whether the entity answering a question is a human or a computer. It is a subject of debate, popularized by successful films like Ex-Machina and Her.

ex-machina artificial intelligence

From the film Ex-Machina (2015)

According to Wang, XiaoIce is being used by millions of users everyday and can respond with answers, questions and “thoughts”, it can even recognize and identify images, responding with logical answers or questions.

“Xiaoice can exchange views on any topic…”
“…If it’s something she doesn’t know much about, she will try to cover it up. If that doesn’t work, she might become embarrassed or even angry, just like a human would…”
“Xiaoice is teaching us what makes a relationship feel human, and hinting at a new goal for artificial intelligence: not just analyzing databases and driving cars, but making people happier.” Wang stated.

nokia windows phone smartphone microsoft

Courtesy of Windows Central

Due to high popularity outside of China, Microsoft has been buying various startups in Asia and building its own apps for smartphones, including iPhone and Android.

Developing various proof-of-concept applications, we can clearly see that Microsoft is betting for a future with artificial intelligence being a target of investment. Wang added:

“XiaoIce is a big data project, built on top of the Microsoft Bing search engine.”

Project Xiaoice is, essentially, a large-scale test of artificial intelligence for Microsoft.

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About The Author
Joel Venner
Electronic musician and technology enthusiast.