On Wednesday, Microsoft launched a new AI-powered chatbot called Tay that can talk to users on multiple platforms.
The robot is the brainchild of Microsoft's Technology and Research and Bing teams and is available on Twitter, Snapchat, Kik, and GroupMe. On Twitter, Tay is described as "Microsoft's A.I. fam from the internet that's got zero chill!" Tay learns from users' interactions and can tell jokes, play games, and even send pictures for "fun but honest comments." According to Tay's official website, she is "designed to engage and entertain people where they connect with each other online through casual and playful conversation" and becomes more personalized for you as you talk to her. Tay is targeted at 18 to 24 year olds in the United States.
"Tay has been built by mining relevant public data and by using A.I. and editorial developed by a staff including improvisational comedians," explained Microsoft (though it declined to name these comedians). "Public data that's been anonymized is Tay's primary data source. That data has been modeled, cleaned and filtered by the team developing Tay." Users can choose to let the chatbot track some of their information including nicknames, gender, favorite foods, zip codes, and their relationship status. Tay can use this information to provide search on your behalf and personalize your experience. Microsoft notes, "Data and conversations you provide to Tay are anonymized and may be retained for up to one year to help improve the service." Kati London, the lead Microsoft researcher for Tay, told BuzzFeed News, "It's really designed to be entertainment. Tay definitely has positions on things."
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