Whether you call them conversational agents, dialog systems, or chatbots, AI-powered bots that can hold human-like conversations are seeping into our everyday lives.
Chatbots work well in a structured environment with a predetermined dataset. Answering simple questions, for example, would be a task a chatbot could excel at. Which is why chatbots are now replacing the Frequently Asked Questions page on websites.
Here’s what you need to know about how these chatbots work and why you might never see a traditional FAQ page again:
Chatbots can be either retrieval-based or generative, which means they can either retrieve data from a predetermined dataset or generate new responses from scratch. These bots can also be open or closed domain, depending on whether the user can take the conversation anywhere and still expect a reply or whether a user needs to stick to a narrow…
From left, Rangan Majumder, Yi-Min Wang and Jianfeng Gao on Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington, campus. Photo by Dan DeLong.
Microsoft researchers have already created technology that can do two difficult tasks about as well as a person: identify images and recognize words in a conversation.
Now, the company’s leading AI experts are working on systems that can do something even more complex: Read passages of text and answer questions about them.
“We’re trying to develop what we call a literate machine: A machine that can read text, understand text and then learn how to communicate, whether it’s written or orally,” said Kaheer Suleman, the co-founder of Maluuba, a Quebec-based deep learning startup that Microsoft acquired earlier this year.
The Maluuba team is one of several groups at Microsoft that are tackling the challenge of machine reading. Two other research teams, one at the company’s Redmond, Washington, headquarters and the…
New Channels, New Docs, New Ways to Make Great Bots
On May 10th, Microsoft announced numerous updates to the Bot Framework designed to help developers make great conversationalists.
1 New Channels
Three new channels are available today, increasing your bot’s reach to even more of the Microsoft audience, as well as people engaged in many of the world’s most popular messaging experiences.
The Cortana channel enables you to extend Cortana by authoring Skills. Visit the Cortana developer portal to learn how to add your skills to Cortana.
The Bing channel allows users to discover and chat with your bot directly in the Bing search result page. Bing bots are authored using the Bot Framework and connected via the Bing channel. The Bing Bot development experience allows bot developers to publish their bots to Bing, where they appear in the Bing Bots Rich Answer. Users will…
The Microsoft Educator Community recently launched a new bot built with the Bot Framework to provide educators with a personal human-like assistant that can direct them quickly to relevant content. One of the key roles of the bot is to help educators better engage with Office 365 and develop their teaching skills with Microsoft’s Office products.
Since the bot was added to the site in January, engagement with the bot has been high, with over 40,000 messages from educators being exchanged. Educators have found the bot to be human-like, valuable, and easy to use. They shared positive praise for its assistance and helpfulness. In fact, Microsoft is beginning to see a trend towards educators preferring to start their engagement on the site with the bot. Educators who use the bot during their visit to the site have 3-times longer session duration…