The company's Twitter chatbot, Tay, proved utterly disastrous / Microsoft

Microsoft wants people to ask bots basic questions about venues like restaurants and cinemas

Microsoft has started testing search engine results that can chat directly to users.

The company wants developers to create custom chatbots that can be added to search listings on Bing.

Users will be able to ask the bots for basic information about venues such as restaurants and cinemas, such as opening hours and parking information. 

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They’re powered by Skype, and the functionality has already been rolled out to a small number of venues, including a restaurant in Seattle called Monsoon.

Unfortunately, at the time of publication, the chatbot didn’t actually allow me to submit any questions.

The company is also testing InfoBot, a chatbot that finds answers to users’ questions by tapping into Wikipedia.

Microsoft is expected to reveal more about its chatbot efforts at its Build developer conference next week.

The schedule for the event includes a session called Chatbots on Bing.com, where Microsoft will talk about “how chatbots enhance the Bing experience and how you can add your custom bots to Bing.com.”

The company introduced an artificially intelligent Twitter chatbot called Tay last year, which proved utterly disastrous.

Programmed to respond automatically to users’ tweets, Microsoft claimed it would get better as it was used by more people.

However, within 24 hours, Tay started tweeting about its support of Hitler and genocide, and using wildly racist slurs against black people.

Microsoft subsequently shut it down and issued an apology.

According to new research, artificially intelligent robots and devices are being taught to be racist, sexist and otherwise prejudiced by learning from humans.

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