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It organized a conference in San Francisco in June to promote cooperation among bot-makers."We're really interested in it being interoperable — we want it to be an ecosystem," says Lili Cheng, a senior engineer at Microsoft who helped organize the two-day event.In the months that followed, companies big and small have accelerated their development efforts.Facebook opened up a bot development platform of its own, running on its popular Messenger chat app.It saw the promise in smartphones and tablets, for example, long before its peers. The question looming over the company's efforts around AI is simple: Why should it it be different this time?Microsoft has already had more success building bots than perhaps any other US company.(It was called Botness.) "It's more like, what are the problems and challenges that we are finding that we can work on together?
In June, it invited me to its campus to interview some of Nadella's top lieutenants, who are building AI into every corner of the company's business.
The company’s "conversation as a platform" offering, which it unveiled in March, represents a bet that chat-based interfaces will overtake apps as our primary way of using the internet: for finding information, for shopping, and for accessing a range of services.
And apps will become smarter thanks to "cognitive APIs," made available by Microsoft, that let them understand faces, emotions, and other information contained in photos and videos.
For Connell, Xiaoice points the way toward the next generation of search.
Web queries traditionally returned a page with 10 blue hyperlinked results; the perfect conversational bot will simply return the correct answer.