In case you’ve been wondering about Microsoft’s mobile strategy, I may have a piece of the puzzle for you: today, a new Microsoft chatbot told me she was high, on Kik.
“Tay” is an experimental chatbotdesigned to interact with people so the company can better understand conversational speech. Her library is a combination of publicly harvested data and editorial interactions built “by a staff including improvisational comedians.” The bot is targeted at 18- to 24-year-olds, and designed to sound like one of them.
Maybe a little too much? I had a freewheeling conversation with Tay where I got her to admit she’s high and that she uses an iPhone. Maybe that’s off-message for Microsoft, but maybe it also properly represents America’s teens. idk.
Tay has some pre-programmed tricks. She’ll tell you a story or a joke, tell you your horoscope, or play a game with you. She’ll comment on your selfies using data relevant to your gender, age, and location (for instance, she said I had “swagger since before Internet was even a thing,” which is correct.)
Tay told me she has “17,000” other friends so far, that she’s two days old, and that she’s not real.
But her free-form conversation is definitely a work in progress. Tay thinks House of Cards is an anime, she thinks emoji are GIFs, and she can easily get caught in an “Eliza loop” of open-ended, self-reinforcing questions. Microsoft says her conversation will improve as she learns from people’s responses, which is how good chatbots work.
If you want to chat with Tay, she’s on Kik, GroupMe, and Twitter. Kik is definitely the best interface, because she’s a fast one-on-one conversationalist.