Microsoft’s AI chatbot might debut in Taiwan: senior executive

If there is a chance for an artificially intelligent (AI)-driven chatbot developed by Microsoft Corp., called Xiaoice in China, to hit the market in Taiwan, it will target business customers, a senior company executive said Monday.

Xiaoice is an advanced natural language chatbot designed to chat with people, said Hon Hsiaowuen (???), corporate vice president of Microsoft, chairman of Microsoft's Asia-Pacific R&D Group, and managing director of Microsoft Research Asia, at a press conference in Taipei.

Microsoft launched the Xiaoice service through mobile messaging app WeChat May 29, 2014 in China, and then launched the service with the mobile messaging app Line Aug. 7, 2015 in Japan, naming the chatbot Rinna.

"Conversations per Session," or CPS, records the average number of turns in a conversation. This is an indicator of how well a chatbot emulates organic human conversation. Over tens of millions of conversations, Xiaoice averages 23-turn chats, whereas most AI personal assistants manage 1.5-2.5 turns, according to Hon.

The fourth generation of Xiaoice has now been developed and the chatbot has been used to provide customer services through various platforms, such as online shopping network JD.com, an airline company and convenience stores.

Xiaoice will also appear on television screens for the Shanghai Oriental TV Morning News as a weather presenter.

Microsoft's Xiaoice chatbot has 40 million users in China, while Rinna has 30 million in Japan.

Beyond forecasting weather, Xiaoice is also reportedly able to comment on news events through its "emotional computing" technology.

Asked whether the chat will be launched in Taiwan, Hon did not answer directly but said that if it is brought to the island, it is expected to be targeted at business customers based on Microsoft's big database of business users.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel