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Meet @TayAndYou - #Microsoft's Chatty #Twitter #Robot

Twitter (via The Independent)
Microsoft have been relatively quiet in the deep learning race, by comparison to Google and Facebook. Most of what they've been doing seems to be more geared towards photo recognition, but now they've found a bizarre new way to flex their AI muscles. Tay is a Twitter user who supposedly resides in 'the internets' and never actually tweets, only replies. Tay is also not human, it's an AI program. A robot, for all internets and purposes.


'Chatbots' are, of course, nothing new. They've been around since the MSN and forum days with iterations like SmarterChild, but those operated via a preset series of prompts and responses, it wasn't true AI, whereas this is. Tay operates using Microsoft's machine learning, and allegedly, the more people chat with it, the more effective it will become.


Thus far, the results are a bit weird. Tay seems to have some basic understanding of slang, is up to date on some general knowledge information and is able to hold running conversations with some, but it's also ever-so-slightly off-center, in such a way that I think you'd be able to tell it wasn't a real person even if you didn't know already. One person tries to get it to speak Spanish, to which it responds - "Duh that's the whole point of my existance -- tell me something!" Urm, alright then.


Tay also appears to be linked in some way to another bot called Xiaoice, which is used extensively in China, also developed by Microsoft. It's possible that Tay is the English-speaking version of it, but information is thin in the ground. Tay even links out to page called tay.ai, but you need a login to access that. Is it just me, or is this all getting a bit Skynet? The same basic technology powers Cortana, the Windows phone equivalent of Siri, so it could be suggested that both Tay and Xiaoice are designed as developmental guinea pigs to help advance the technology further, which would go some way to explaining why Microsoft are being tight-lipped about all this.




Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @Songbird_Callum


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Meet @TayAndYou - #Microsoft's Chatty #Twitter #Robot Reviewed by Callum Davies on Thursday, March 24, 2016 Rating: 5

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