Microsoft acquires Semantic Machines

Microsoft has acquired Semantic Machines, which has developed a new approach to building conversational artificial intelligence (AI).

Led by pioneers in conversational AI, Semantic Machines uses the power of machine learning to enable users to discover, access and interact with information and services in a more natural way, and with significantly less effort.

The Berkeley-based companies team includes technopreneur Dan Roth, University of California in Berkeley Professor Dan Klein and Stanford University Professor Percy Liang, and former Apple Chief Speech Scientist Larry Gillick.

“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,” noted David Ku – CVP and Chief Technology Officer of Microsoft AI & Research, in a blog.

“With XiaoIce and Cortana, we’ve made breakthroughs in speech recognition and more recently become the first to add full-duplex voice sense to a conversational AI system, allowing people to carry on a conversation naturally,” he added.

With the acquisition of Semantic Machines, Microsoft will establish a conversational AI center of excellence in Berkeley to push forward the boundaries of what is possible in language interfaces.