Microsoft has acquired a Canadian artificial intelligence startup that is focused on making machines able to think and communicate the way people do with intentions of developing software that can read, write and converse using natural language.
Microsoft did not reveal the financial details of the transaction, but elaborated a lot on why it believes that Maluuba is a company that will enable it to take its AI game further and that too by leaps and bounds. Microsoft noted that the Canadian startup’s vision is to advance toward a more general artificial intelligence by creating literate machines that can think, reason and communicate like humans and that’s something that the Windows 10 has been working on as well.
“I’m incredibly excited about the scenarios that this acquisition could make possible in conversational AI”, said Microsoft artificial intelligence and research group executive vice president Harry Shum.
With more and more companies bringing their virtual assistants to the table over the last few months, the attention is now sharply on how to make these assistants intelligent as well as enable them to communicate in natural language with humans.
Just to share a glimpse of what tech giants are doing in this domain: Amazon virtual assistant Alexa was a star at the Consumer Electronics Show gadget gala last week in Las Vegas; at CES, computer chipmaker Nvidia said it would use Google Assistant for its interactive streaming devices; Microsoft’s Cortana will power a voice-assistant speaker for kids and families being introduced by Mattel, and will also be in Renault-Nissan’s connected car hub; Samsung’s smart refrigerator, which acts as a connected hub – with a voice activation system unveiled at CES – uses the South Korean giant’s Tizen operating system.
Many smart devices for the home also integrate with Apple Home Kit, which uses the iPhone maker’s artificial intelligence and voice assistant Siri. At CES, Chinese giant Baidu showcased its own virtual assistant “Little Fish” which will debut in China this year.