Microsoft is planning to acquire AI startup Semantic Machines in an effort to make bots and digital assistant Cortana sound more human. Semantic Machines was founded in 2014 and make use of Machine Learning to make bots respond in a more natural way to the requests. The company is led by two conversational AI pioneers, namely UC Berkeley professor Dan Klein and former Apple chief speech recognition scientist Larry Gillick.
This acquisition will boost Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana, as well as its Azure Bot Service that’s deployed by 300,000 developers. “The acquisition of Semantic Machines will help Microsoft in establishing a conversational AI center of excellence in Berkeley to trigger the possibilities in language interfaces,” explains David Ku, CTO of Microsoft AI & Research.
Google is also working on a similar project, focusing on a human-sounding AI. Earlier this month, Google presented its Google Duplex, which allows the digital assistant to call businesses, book hair appointments or restaurants on behalf of the users. Google’s demo opened up numerous concerns over ethics and casual human speech. Microsoft has already had its own AI controversies all because of its racist Twitter Bot, so the company has to be very careful with whatever it develops from this acquisition.