Cortana Gets Massive AI Boost

Cortana Gets Massive AI Boost
Microsoft has acquired Semantic Machines, a company with cutting-edge conversational AI skills.

(CCM) — Microsoft's Cortana intelligent assistant will receive a huge technology injection following the company's acquisition of conversational AI startup Semantic Machines this week. The purchase should allow Cortana to rival the power of Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant in the foreseeable future.

Semantic Machines' roster of AI experts include the former Chief Speech Scientist for Siri at Apple, former Google AI experts who worked on Google Now, and ex-employees from Nuance, one of the market leaders in speech recognition software.

"With the acquisition of Semantic Machines, we will establish a conversational AI center of excellence in Berkeley to push forward the boundaries of what is possible in language interfaces," David Ku, Microsoft's chief technology officer for AI, said in a blog post announcing the acquisition.

The startup's technology, when integrated into Cortana, should enable Microsoft's intelligent assistant to answer follow-up questions, make use of information shared earlier, and even carry out complex tasks after receiving step-by-step instructions from a user. It will also be used to make third-party virtual assistants and bots through Microsoft's Cognitive Services and Azure Bot Service.

An enhanced Cortana would be made available on devices running Microsoft's Windows operating systems and would likely be included in the smart speaker which the company is believed to be developing to rival Amazon's Echo, Google's Home, and Apple's HomePod.

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