By Michael Fiorito, MDS
At a recent conference in San Francisco, Microsoft’s discussed how “everyday AI” is being further integrated into its core products and services.
For instance, Microsoft is adding multiple viewpoints to Bing search results. Asking Bing “is sugar bad?” will result in two different answers to that question. (Note that some queries, like when a historical figure is born, will yield an agreed-upon factual response).
Microsoft also is working to make Bing at helping people find information, even when they aren’t exactly sure how to search for it. They are doing this by partnering with social aggregation site Reddit to add Reddit information to Bing search results. Reddit information from conversations, communities and Reddit AMAs (Ask Me Anything) sessions will be included in search results.
Microsoft is continuing to add more AI-centric functionality to Cortana. For example, Cortana will be able to sort emails and provide summaries of the most important ones from Outlook, Gmail and other accounts. Microsoft also is adding “skills chaining” to Cortana, enabling Cortana not just to book tickets but to also subsequently add an event to a user’s calendar. Cortana also can now access users Google calendars, not just Outlook.
Microsoft already has added some AI to Office 365 empowering it to make suggestions in Word documents and declutter users’ inboxes. It also is introducing a preview of Office Insights that relies on machine learning to analyze Excel spreadsheet data to create pivot tables, charts and other easy-to-digest analytical information.
Microsoft also is working on a new tool called Acronyms that will be part of Word Online starting in 2018, which will sift through Office documents and emails to help users find definitions of acronyms specific to their companies. Tap — a new feature in Word — will help users to find relevant documents, spreadsheets and other relevant information without having to exit a Word document. This will let users add a chart to a presentation without having to sift through email to find it.
Microsoft also announced today that its Azure Bot Service and Cognitive Services Language Understanding (LUIS) tools are generally available. Microsoft is aiming these services at developers and data scientists who want to build bots that can converse more naturally.
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