Build Great Conversational Bots Using Azure Bot Service & LUIS (Both Services Now Generally Available)


Conversational AI, or making human and computer interactions more natural, has been a goal of computer scientists for a long time. In support of that longstanding quest, we are excited to announce the general availability of two key Microsoft Azure services that streamline the creation of interactive conversational bots, namely the Azure Bot Service and the Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS). The Azure Bot Service helps developers create conversational interfaces on multiple channels. LUIS helps developers create customized natural interactions on any platform for any type of application, including bots. With these two services now generally available on Azure, developers can easily build custom models that naturally interpret the intentions of users who converse with their bots.

Announcing the General Availability of Azure Bot Service and Language Understanding, enabling developers to build better conversational bots


Conversational AI, or making human and computer interactions more natural, has been a goal since technology became ubiquitous in our society. Our mission is to bring conversational AI tools and capabilities to every developer and every organization on the planet, and help businesses augment human ingenuity in unique and differentiated ways. Today, I'm excited to announce Microsoft Azure Bot Service and Microsoft Cognitive Services Language Understanding (LUIS) are both generally available. Azure Bot Service enables developers to create conversational interfaces on multiple channels while Language Understanding (LUIS) helps developers create customized natural interactions on any platform for any type of application, including bots. Making these two services generally available on Azure simultaneously extends the capabilities of developers to build custom models that can naturally interpret the intentions of people conversing with bots.

Amazon's Alexa Wants You to Talk to Your Ads


There are few electronic devices with which you cannot order a Domino's pizza. When the craving hits, you can place an order via Twitter, Slack, Facebook Messenger, SMS, your tablet, your smartwatch, your smart TV, and even your app-enabled Ford. This year, the pizza monger added another ordering tool: If your home is one of the 20 million with a voice assistant, you can place a regular order through Alexa or Google Home. Just ask for a large extra-cheese within earshot, and voila--your pizza is in the works. Sign up to get Backchannel's weekly newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Robot restaurants put a new spin on fast casual


This is part of CNET's "Dining Redefined" series about how technology is changing the way you eat. When someone says "robot restaurant," I first think of an LED and laser show at a Tokyo venue where remote-controlled robots dance with bikini-clad girls in a sensory show that accompanies dinner. But the reality of robot restaurants is generally way more pedestrian and low-key. One example is Eatsa, the San Francisco-based restaurant company that takes orders through iPads and dispenses meals through automated machines. Until now, Eatsa has been using this tech to serve up quinoa bowls to health-food fans in its own restaurants.

Robots Will Transform Fast Food

The Atlantic

Sawada speculates that 70 percent of the jobs at Japan's hotels will be automated in the next five years. "It takes about a year to two years to get your money back," he said. "But since you can work them 24 hours a day, and they don't need vacation, eventually it's more cost-efficient to use the robot." This may seem like a vision of the future best suited--perhaps only suited--to Japan. But according to Michael Chui, a partner at the McKinsey Global Institute, many tasks in the food-service and accommodation industry are exactly the kind that are easily automated.

Wendy's will deliver your next Baconator through DoorDash


Starting today, you'll be able to get Wendy's delivered right to your door as the chain is now partnering exclusively with DoorDash. At launch, the delivery service is available in 48 markets nationwide. Wendy's and DoorDash piloted the program earlier this year in Columbus, Ohio and Dallas, Texas and the restaurant chain said that the Baconator and Frosty were popular items during the test. Wendy's is the latest fast-food chain to team up with DoorDash. Other DoorDash partners have included Taco Bell, Baskin-Robbins and KFC while UberEats has McDonald's on its lineup.

Robots Are Coming for Jobs of as Many as 800 Million Worldwide


As many as 800 million workers worldwide may lose their jobs to robots and automation by 2030, equivalent to more than a fifth of today's global labor force. That's according to a new report covering 46 nations and more than 800 occupations by the research arm of McKinsey & Co. The consulting company said Wednesday that both developed and emerging countries will be impacted. Machine operators, fast-food workers and back-office employees are among those who will be most affected if automation spreads quickly through the workplace. Even if the rise of robots is less rapid, some 400 million workers could still find themselves displaced by automation and would need to find new jobs over the next 13 years, the McKinsey Global Institute study found.

800 MILLION workers will be replaced by robots by 2030

Daily Mail

As our world becomes more and more technology-driven, robots could replace workers in a huge number of jobs, a new report has warned. The report claims that as many as 800 million workers could be replaced by machines in just 13 years. Jobs most likely to be taken include fast-food workers and machine-operators, while gardeners, plumbers and childcare workers are the least likely to be replaced by bots, according to the report. In terms of jobs, the report suggests that physical jobs in predictable environments – including machine-operators and fast-food worker – are the most likely to be replaced by robots. But it added: 'Collecting and processing data are two other categories of activities that increasingly can be done better and faster with machines.

SoftBank upgrades humanoid robot Pepper

The Japan Times

SoftBank Group Corp. said it has upgraded the customer service capabilities of its Pepper humanoid robot, aiming to create demand in the business sector as Japan struggles with manpower shortages. The upgraded Pepper can take orders in English and Chinese, a new feature mainly designed to attract the restaurant industry, which is expected to see more foreign customers thanks to an increase in visitors from abroad, SoftBank said Monday. Customers can select a language on a screen located on Pepper's chest. The robot can recommend the day's special in the customer's preferred language. Orders can be placed via Pepper's chest screen, the company said.

AI and human intuition go hand in hand


Give any respectable machine learning algorithm a concrete scenario to optimize and it will blow human-based heuristics out of the water. But we as humans should continue to focus on what we do best -- thinking creatively, building empathy for other humans -- in order to guide machines in the right directions. A friend asks for recommendations of restaurants that are good for a romantic night out. If you're like most people, you probably jumped to a few salient features -- cozy atmosphere, fancy and non-messy food, and maybe bonus points for shareable desserts. Based on the perceived importance of each of these features, you then remembered a few restaurants that do well on each of these areas and formulated a recommendation.