Here is All You Need to Know about Microsoft’s Massive Social Experiment in China

Microsoft continues to impress, aggressively pursuing the path of churning out immediately adoptable enterprise-grade solutions and investing in innovations that should drive a bigger market share in an increasingly transforming digital space. However, this is not about smarter Office 365 solutions or intuitive apps. This time, Microsoft is delving into mysterious waters of IT – creating technology that can distinguish between humans and virtual machines. Titled as Xiaoice, the experiment grabbed the headlines and due to its human connect, has been described as a social experiment.

Microsoft’s Xiaoice, which means “little Bing” in Chinese, has been described as the “largest turning test in history” by many researchers

What is Xiaoice about?

A famous British scientist created the Turning Test—it examines whether the response is from a human or computing device. The Turing Test has had its share of spotlight. It was initially used to decode whether a virtual machine or human is answering questions eventually found its way into pop culture, finding a place in the “Ex Machina”. There is a bigger story than first impressions—this Test highlights the act that even Artificial Intelligence is susceptible to manipulation. Think of it as the highest form of computed intelligence not immune to being humanized. The Xiaoice is now accessed by millions of people every day. It also has the ability to respond with human-like questions, answers and thoughts. For example if a user sends a picture of a broken hand, expect a reply from Xiaoice asking you about the intensity of pain or the reason behind the injury.

Human-like qualities

Xiaoice has human-like reactions, perceptions that are similar to human behavior and response. It exchanges and shares views about a topic, and has been found guilty of trying to cover up mistakes and is also capable of getting angry or being embarrassed. Call it humanization of technology or just another splash in the niche of AI, Xiaoice has engaged attention of millions in China—with nearly 25% users absolutely loving the response.

Xiaoice & Artificial Intelligence — What is Microsoft up to?

Xiaoice is not about making artificial intelligence more playful or responsive. With Microsoft buying startups and building its own apps for Android and iPhone, it makes sense as AI-enabled perception of human behavior can help to make apps more interactive. Artificial Intelligence was huge in 2015 and with increasing digitalization, it should continue to garner attention in 2016. Xiaoice takes the AI game a bit further, capable of examining your emotional state, sometimes judging it correctly like a long-known companion. Xiaoice is important to Microsoft as it has very little offer when competing with similar technologies associated with Google Now and Siri. Some folks say that Microsoft Xiaoice outperforms Siri!

Microsoft must be betting big on Artificial Intelligence to ensure its mobility solutions come across as more humanized interfaces. The efforts from Microsoft in this niche have been consistent. For instance, Microsoft developed an alarm clock that can identify facial expressions. SwiftKey from Microsoft is not just another keyboard app—it uses artificial intelligence for faster, more precise predictability. Even Cortana and Office Suite have two central components that employ AI.

Concluding Thoughts

Microsoft seems serious about machine learning and Xiaoice underlines this approach. By experiencing billions of interactions in the past 18 months, Xiaoice is constantly evolving. Last we heard about Xiaoice included improving self-learning and self-growing loops…what lies ahead can be ridiculously close to human behavior…