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Microsoft acquires conversational AI startup Semantic Machines to help bots sound more lifelike

Microsoft announced today that it has acquired Semantic Machines, a Berkeley-based startup that wants to solve one of the biggest challenges in conversational AI: making chatbots sound more human and less like, well, bots.

In a blog post, Microsoft AI & Research chief technology officer David Ku wrote that “with the acquisition of Semantic Machines, we will establish a conversational AI center of excellence in Berkeley to push forward the boundaries of what is possible in language interfaces.”

According to Crunchbase, Semantic Machines was founded in 2014 and raised about $20.9 million in funding from investors including General Catalyst and Bain Capital Ventures.

In a 2016 profile, co-founder and chief scientist Dan Klein told TechCrunch that “today’s dialog technology is mostly orthogonal. You want a conversational system to be contextual so when you interpret a sentence things don’t stand in isolation.” By focusing on memory, Semantic Machines’ AI can produce conversations that not only answer or predict questions more accurately, but also flow naturally.

Instead of building its own consumer products, Semantic Machines focused on enterprise customers. This means it will fit in well with Microsoft’s conversational AI-based products, including Microsoft Cognitive Services and Azure Bot Service, which are used by one million and 300,000 developers, respectively, and virtual assistants Cortana and Xiaolce.

Chatbot startup founder sees Southeast Asia potential despite slow start worldwide

 Chatbots may have underwhelmed thus far, but the impact of the technology still has bags of potential in international markets where mobile messaging has been mainstream for years. That’s the view of one startup that’s working to bring the benefit of bots to the mainstream in Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country and the largest economy in the growing region… Read More

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Hugging Face wants to become your artificial BFF

 Meet Hugging Face, a new chatbot app for bored teenagers. The New York-based startup is creating a fun and emotional bot. Hugging Face will generate a digital friend so that you can text back and forth and trade selfies. Playing with Hugging Face was a lot more engaging than talking with a customer support bot. Like other companies, Hugging Face doesn’t want to be useful. It wants to… Read More

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Octane AI boldly bets that Convos are the future of content

maroon-5-facebook-post-to-octane-ai-convo-in-situ One billion people use Facebook Messenger every month. And no matter how bad the current perceptions of the bot scene are, that number is hard to ignore. Octane AI is counting on celebrity content creators to build conversational experiences that people actually want to have. With its public launch and the rollout of its content creation platform Convos, the Octane team is taking a gamble on… Read More

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Facebook message this chatbot to know how to hit on a woman with respect

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Valentine’s Day can certainly be empowering too.

A woman in Singapore has created a feminist wingman in the form of a Facebook Messenger chatbot.

Message the Feminist Wingbot and it’ll deliver a stream of pick-up lines for that lady you’d like to deliver a pick-up line to — in a respectful way.

The bot aims to help people “impress that feminist in your life” by providing these empowering pick-up lines, complete with relevant gifs:

The chatbot was created by Dillah Zakbah, resident creative technologist at Bartle Bogle Hegarty’s Singapore office. Read more…

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