Cortana


Microsoft's Modern Approach to Artificial Intelligence Grows

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This week in San Francisco, Microsoft shared details about how it is continuing to enhance its products and services using a modern approach to artificial intelligence. These announcements, which come about a year after the company established its Microsoft AI and Research Group, focus on the application of this technology to provide customers a more robust experience across several product groups. According to Microsoft, artificial intelligence is a feature that isn't intended to be right in front of the user's eyes. There are no buttons labelled "Click Here for Artificial Intelligence" or "Apply Artificial Intelligence to This Result." Rather, the company believes it should exist in the background as part of the products DNA – its core capabilities – and this is the exact approach they have taken over the last year.


Microsoft's Cortana now has 230 skills (and Amazon's Alexa, 25,000)

ZDNet

There are currently 230 skills, or supplemental apps, available for Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant, while there are at least 25,000 for Amazon's Alexa. No, that's not a typo. I'm not missing a comma or some zeros. There are only 230 Cortana skills, as of December 2017. And this includes as part of the total more than a few school fight songs.


The difference between AI, machine learning and digital assistants

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We hear a lot about artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and digital assistants these days. But what does it all mean? Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and others are aggressively imbuing their products and services with "intelligence." We're told that computer systems will become smarter, will anticipate our needs, proactively serve us, and understand us in various contexts and via multiple methods including voice, text, inking and motion. The digital "face" of this promising tech comes in the form of assistants like Cortana, Assistant, Siri, Alexa, and Bixby.


Microsoft adds more AI-powered updates to Bing, Cortana, Office 365 ZDNet

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Microsoft is continuing to infuse more AI smarts into its Bing web search, Cortana digital assistant and Office 365 services. At a press and analyst event in San Francisco on December 13, company officials showed off some of the incremental AI-powered updates it is introducing to these services. Microsoft's overriding message was that in addition to providing big-bang AI advances, like its just-unveiled quantum-computing development kit, it also is delivering more "everyday AI" ones, too, by integrating AI-driven tech into its core products and services. At a time when news and other information is under increased scrutiny for bias and intentional fakery, Microsoft is adding multiple viewpoints to Bing search results. Asking Bing "is cholesterol bad?" will result in two different answers to that question.


Microsoft integrate AI further into Bing, Cortana and Office - MSPoweruser

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At Microsoft's Everyday AI event they announced a number of new features coming to Bing and Cortana and Office, all driven by their AI advances. One interesting new Bing feature will be automatically displaying multiple viewpoints for controversial searches such as "is cholesterol bad for you?" culled from a number of recognized news sources, in an effort to break user's filter bubble and expose them to other points of view. Bing will also soon help users craft their searches better prompting them to supply more information to narrow down their results. It will also offer a more powerful image search, being able to recognize and search specific objects in a photo. Lastly, Bing will be indexing Reddit's data, surfacing information about subreddits and extracting useful data from AMAs.


Microsoft's Cortana can now suggest follow-up tasks

Engadget

Microsoft may not be the biggest player in the AI assistant space, but it has some tricks that could give it an edge. The software giant has used an AI-themed event to demo Cortana's widening abilities, most notably to'chain' skills together based on what you're doing. If you book tickets for a concert, for instance, Cortana could suggest adding the concert to your calendar so that you won't forget to head out that night. You could get everything done in a single, elegant voice command session. Cortana should also make better sense of your overflowing inbox.


Microsoft's path to a smarter Bing and Cortana includes tapping Reddit users' opinions

PCWorld

Microsoft's Bing search engine and Cortana digital assistant might not change that much from day to day, but behind the scenes they're getting smarter--integrating factual insights from more sources, including the opinions of Reddit users. At an AI-focused event in San Francisco, Microsoft showed off a number of improvements, all geared towards increasing the "intelligence" of Bing, Cortana, and Microsoft Office. Why this matters: Calling out some of these behind-the-scenes upgrades helps Microsoft demonstrate its unique attributes, and thus relevance, among the competing AI-based platforms of Amazon, Apple, and Google. Bing already lets you comparison shop for similar items across the web. Now you can isolate an object in a photo and shop for it.


Microsoft adds more AI-powered updates to Bing, Cortana, Office 365

ZDNet

Microsoft is continuing to infuse more AI smarts into its Bing web search, Cortana digital assistant and Office 365 services. At a press and analyst event in San Francisco on December 13, company officials showed off some of the incremental AI-powered updates it is introducing to these services. Microsoft's overriding message was that in addition to providing big-bang AI advances, like its just-unveiled quantum-computing development kit, it also is delivering more "everyday AI" ones, too, by integrating AI-driven tech into its core products and services. At a time when news and other information is under increased scrutiny for bias and intentional fakery, Microsoft is adding multiple viewpoints to Bing search results. Asking Bing "is cholesterol bad?" will result in two different answers to that question.


Microsoft's Cortana can now suggest follow-up tasks

#artificialintelligence

Cortana should also make better sense of your overflowing inbox. The demo showed the AI helper not only sorting emails, but summarizing the most important ones. If your boss asked about the status of a project, you would know without having to look at your email app or check your notifications. The feature works across different email account types and subjects, so this could include both your Outlook account at work and your personal Gmail address. It's not certain how readily these features will be available as we write this.


How artificial intelligence will underpin our world – from the home and beyond

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Artificial intelligence (AI) has been widely considered as the buzzword of the tech industry in 2017. The UK government has even dedicated £75m of funding for AI, including up to £45m to build AI capability and knowledge by increasing the number of AI PhD students to 200 a year. With governments launching dedicated funding and organisations from all walks of life racing to reposition themselves as tech companies - from launching chatbots to deploying big data analysis and deep learning - AI is transforming the way we work and how we interact with brands. In today's economic climate, organisations are seeking alterative methods and technologies to serve a larger volume of people, keeping customer service standards up and ensuring costs are managed. It is in this area that the explosion of AI-powered chatbots has disrupted the very meaning of customer service.