Let’s start with a question: should Microsoft turn Cortana into a chatbot? Google is turning Google Now into one, so is this the way to go? It could be. But we will need some details first.
The Windows 10 digital assistant named Cortana was revealed in 2014. Cortana is friendly and you can easily interact with her. Just ask a question and she responds. But recently, Google’s assistant has been doing some other things too. It is a chatbot who can interact with users via texts or images. Harry Shum, the executive vice president in charge of Microsoft’s AI and Research Group is the one who will most probably decide what to do with Cortana. He has reportedly explained in an interview that he does not rule out this possibility of turning her into a chatbot. But when he was asked what are the company’s plans for chatbots, he choose to not share anything vital by saying that it is still very early to talk about those kinds of things.
According to Shum, the original plan for Cortana was for her to interact with the user and then disappear. She will help you with a task then leave you be. The people who have used Cortana are over 133 million. In this way, Microsoft managed to find out that the total number of devices which have Windows 10 on them is 400 billion. So, less than half of the users have never asked her anything.
But Google also revealed their chatbot which is for now part of their Allo app. But the company wants to extend its use and therefore replace the Google Now on Android devices. This assistant will have an entire conversation with you on different topics. It will even propose more topics of discussion, including games and quizzes. The user can also scroll and go back to a point in the conversation which they want to continue. Cortana does not have these features available.
The Tay experiment
We cannot say if Microsoft will completely replace Cortana with something similar, but even Shum agreed that it is indeed more engaging. And it attracts more people. It is a more popular feature.
Let’s remember that Microsoft begun long ago to introduce virtual assistants. Remember Clippy? The office assistant which annoyed each and every one of us? Well, Cortana is gifted with a pretty sassy attitude. Some people might even see her as a way for Microsoft to vacuum personal info. And also, Tay. The chatbot Tay was famous for making dialogue with humans. The problems begun when some people learned discovered how to teach Tay some very offensive and dark things. So when Tay begun saying some horrible and inappropriate things, they retired it.
Xiaolce was another digital assistant. It was a friend who Chinese people could talk to. She has been pretty successful. This is why Microsoft has brought it into the Japanese market and is seriously thinking about introducing it to the U.S.
To conclude, whether Microsoft will make Cortana a chatbot or not, the era of digital assistants is upon us. And more are likely to appear on other devices and belonging to other companies.
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