Technology 2 min read

Microsoft Just Acquired an AI Startup to Make its Bots Sound Like Humans

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VDB Photos /

Tech giant Microsoft just announced the company’s acquisition of the AI startup Semantic Machines.

In a blog published by Microsoft AI & Research chief technology officer David Ku, it was announced that Microsoft had acquired the Berkely-based AI startup Semantic Machines. The company is reportedly working on finding the solution to one of the most significant challenges in conversational AI — how to make chatbots talk and sound like real humans.

“We are excited to announce today that we have acquired Semantic Machines Inc., a Berkeley, California-based company that has developed a revolutionary new approach to building conversational AI,” Ku wrote.

“Their work uses the power of machine learning to enable users to discover, access and interact with information and services in a much more natural way, and with significantly less effort.”

Semantic Machines was founded back in 2014. It was able to raise around $20.9 million in funding from different investors, including General Catalyst and Bain Capital Ventures.

Read More: New Google AI Division Differs From Microsoft AI Approach

The startup was led by some of the top pioneers in the field of conversational AI. The list includes tech entrepreneur Dan Roth and two world-renowned and prominent natural language AI researchers, Dan Klein and Percy Liang from UC Berkely and Stanford University respectively.

“The goal has been to expand our vision of computers all around us to a world where they could see, hear, talk and understand as humans,” Ku further said.

“We are further developing our work in conversational AI with our digital assistant Cortana, as well as with social chatbots like XiaoIce. XiaoIce has had more than 30 billion conversations, averaging up to 30 minutes each, with 200 million users across platforms in China, Japan, the United States, India, and Indonesia.”

Unlike other startups who build their own products, Semantic Machines is focused on enterprise customers. Meaning, their processes and structure will be a perfect match to Microsoft’s AI-based products. These products would include Microsoft Cognitive Services and Azure Bot Service.

According to Ku, the acquisition of the AI startup Semantic Machines will help the company establish a conversational AI center of excellence in Berkely which will “push forward the boundaries of what is possible in language interfaces.”

Would it be exciting on your part if artificial intelligence machines, like chatbots, can talk and sound like humans?

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Chelle Fuertes

Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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