Sure, voice assistants like Siri and Alexa can be helpful in so many ways, but the pre-programmed responses can definitely come off as too canned. Google is coming out with “Duplex” that sounds much more human and can make calls, but Microsoft has already introduced Xiaolce in China. It’s an AI bot that can converse with you just like a human would, which seems like they’re going just a step further than Google.
Of course, you’re not looking to sit down and have a conversation with an AI bot, but it would be helpful when you’re trying to find some information, and instead of having to rephrase your question and ask it several different times, perhaps the bot could ask you for clarification or could listen when you tell it that’s not what you mean.
“Xiaolce has the ability to have human-like verbal conversations, which the industry calls ‘full duplex,’” explained Microsoft’s executive vice president for artificial intelligence and research, Harry Shum, in a blog post. “Using this skill, she has talked with over 600K people on the phone since we launched last August!”
When he says it’s making full duplex capabilities, it means both individuals in the conversation can be talking at the same time, just like what happens in a real conversation. Users will be able to interact with Xiaolce using voice or text in messaging services such as WeChat.
At an AI event in London, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella demonstrated the social chatbot and said they began having full duplex conversations earlier this year. “So now Xiaolce can be conversing with you in WeChat and stop and call you. Then you can just talk to it using voice,” she said.
The Future of Xialolce
“We have seen tremendous success with Xiaolce in China and our other global chatbots,” said a Microsoft representative. “We are excited about what this technology will bring to the future of AI and computing.”
Other countries have Microsoft AI bots, such as India’s Ruuh, Japan and Indonesia’s Rinna, and the US’s Zo.ai, but they aren’t as advanced as Xiaolce. However, a Microsoft rep did note that Zo.ai will be getting full duplex voice conversation support soon itself in the US and UK.
Microsoft is making Xiaolce available to app developers and is also developing a feature for it so that it can create a 10-minute customized audio story for a child. This is expected to be available in Asia starting next month.
It would seem this technology would be most useful in a smart home speaker. The voice assistants such as Alexa can already answer all your questions on demand, but think of the usefulness if you could actually converse with it about your day ahead, about something you’re researching, etc.
It seems Xiaolce could open up so many possibilities. The list is endless.
Would This Be Useful for You?
Sure, Microsoft’s Xiaolce has many, many possibilities, but is this something you’re looking for? Do you want to be able to converse back and forth with an AI bot? Or do you think you’d find that a little creepy? Let us know how you feel about this in the comments section below.