Microsoft’s first experience with the AI-driven chatbot known as Tay, which was released on Twitter, did not end well. Users on the platform somehow managed to transform the once innocent Microsoft chatbot into an entity spreading white supremacist propaganda. Now the company has released on Kik a new chatbot called Zo.
Microsoft seems to be keen on testing what they have learned from the experiences of Tay, but the company does not seem confident enough to release Zo on a major messaging platform. Kik has around 250 million registered users in total, with no information regarding the messaging platform’s monthly active users, being one of the lesser-known services.
The Microsoft chatbot was first discovered by Tom Hounsell, a Twitter user and was later written up by MSPoweruser. Zo appears to be the English version bot of Xiaoice, which is Microsoft’s Chinese bot. They both behave in similar ways such as attempting to start conversations with various users, asking simple questions like what seasons you prefer, or whether you enjoy backpacking overseas more than visiting a theme park.
The chatbots are part of Microsoft’s efforts to analyze how real users interact with them. The company seems to be promoting the idea that the next computing platform will consist of conversations with automated partners.
However, Microsoft’s first experiences have not been very successful. Even Zo doesn’t seem much of a conversationalist, as the dialogue with real users is quickly derailed into something that doesn’t make much sense. Although it just may need some to gradually learn as it talks with more people. Hopefully, Zo will not become radicalized as Tay, though as the news about its presence on the messaging platform spreads, users who will want to troll Microsoft are sure to appear.
Overall, Zo identifies as a 22-year-old woman and seems to have been designed to avoid very polarizing topics such as the 2016 US presidential election or politics in general. Any attempts to turn the conversation into that direction will either Zo change the topic or just express his disinterest.
What do you think about the new Microsoft chatbot? Do you really think that we will talk with automated conversation partners in the future instead of with other people?
Image source: Wikimedia