Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Microsoft’s teenage AI shows I know nothing about millennials

Microsoft has a new artificial intelligence bot, named Taylor, that tries to hold conversations on Twitter, Kik, and GroupMe. And she makes me feel terribly old and out of touch.

Tay, as she calls herself, is a chatbot that's targeted at 18- to 24-year-olds in the US. Just tweet at her or message her and she responds with words and occasionally meme pictures. Sometimes she doesn't, though. She's meant to be able to learn a few things about you—basic details like nickname, favorite food, relationship status—and is supposed to be able to have engaging conversations. She is intended to get better at conversations the longer they go on. But honestly, I couldn't get much sense out of her. Except for my nickname, she wasn't interested in learning any of these other details about me, and her replies tended to be meaningless statements that ended any conversation, rather than open questions that would lead me to say more about myself.

Maybe I was talking about the wrong things. I'm not entirely sure what 18- to 24-year-olds talk about, really. But she didn't seem interested in whether Taylor Swift or Katy Perry is better, she doesn't watch TV, and she expressed no interest in this year's election.

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