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But you probably aren’t aware of it, because its success started in China.
In January 2016, one of Microsoft's artificial intelligence creations appeared on the Chinese morning news show Dragon TV when the newscaster cut away to its weather forecaster, Xiaoice.
Satya Nadella bounded into the conference room, eager to talk about intelligence.
I was at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, WA, and the company’s CEO was touting the company's progress in building more intelligent apps and services.
Each morning, he told me, he puts on a Holo Lens, which enables him to look at a virtual, interactive calendar projected on a wall of his house. The system was intelligent, productive, and futuristic: everything he hopes Microsoft will be under his leadership.
No matter where we work in the future, Nadella says, Microsoft will have a place in it.
For Connell, Xiaoice points the way toward the next generation of search.
Web queries traditionally returned a page with 10 blue hyperlinked results; the perfect conversational bot will simply return the correct answer.
"I’m not going to go so far as to say we’ve found the killer bot — but we’ve found a bot that works in a new way that fulfills many of the promises of conversation," says Derrick Connell, head of search engineering at Bing. After it was available for three days, Xiaoice had been added to 1.5 million conversations on the Chinese mega-messenger app We Chat.Pronounced "SHAO-ICE," it’s a bot whose name is Chinese for "little Bing." That's Bing as in Microsoft's perennial also-ran search engine. The camera cut to an animated circle hovering in front of a virtual podium.The face transformed into an image of a microphone, and in a soft female voice, Xiaoice shared her forecast, even answering a question from the anchor.Microsoft argues that it has the best "brain," built on nearly two decades of advancements in machine learning and natural language processing, for delivering a future powered by artificial intelligence.It has a head start in building bots that resonate with users emotionally, thanks to an early experiment in China.