Shira Weinberg

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Transcript of Shira Weinberg

Two minute history lesson

Whos the Bot?Shira WeinbergProduct Manager, Microsoft

A year and a half ago I had to schedule a business meeting with 2 women who dont work with me at Microsoft, so I dont have visibility to their schedule. It was even more complicated since one of them, Adriana, lives in San Francisco and the timezone differences dont leave us with many available timeslots. And thats where it usually gets complicated were all busy women with full time jobs, shes in SF and were in Israel. So Adriana added Amy, her personal assistant, to the thread and asked her to find a timeslot for us to meet. And so we started a long ping-pong of emails, in which I was trying to be very nice and pleasant, repeatedly saying sorry and thank you after about 4 emails I scrolled down and read Amys signature, and thats when I realized Shes a bot!That made me realize that if I fell for it then something has really changed, bots are becoming a real big thing.My name is Shira Weinberg, Im a product manager at Microsoft working on Cortana, which is a kind of a bot, and today Im gonna talk about the bot revolution, what does that mean and why is it happening now?

Chatbots are taking over

But lets start with a pretty basic question - What is a chatbot?A chatbot is a computer program simulating a user, that could chat with you as if it was a real user.

Lately, chatbots have become a huge hype. Why is this happening? And why now?

2forces are combining to form a perfect storm and opportunity

2 changes are happening these days that create this revolution:

1Messaging app growth

The first is the rise of messaging apps. Please raise your hand if you have a messaging app installed other than SMS. If you have at lease 2 keep your hand up. 3 4 I have 6.We use messaging more and more to interact with our friends, family and colleagues.

Mid 2015: Messengers took over social media

Source: Tech and Media Outlook 2016, active

Also, if we look at the top 4 messaging apps and the top 4 social networks, we can see that messaging apps took over social media in mid 2015.

2Artificial IntelligenceMessaging app growth


The second is A. AI is no news, its something weve been talking about for years

Many books have been written about AI in the past.

And movies as well. But lately, AI is becoming reality with services and products that deliver real value: Apples Siri, Amazons Echo, and Microsofts Cortana: these products can manage a conversation with you, understand what you need and help you get things done.

So, since these 2 changes are happening, it makes sense to combine the two and create AI powered chatbots. Lets see some interesting examples:

Microsoft Xiaoice

Xiaoice is suggesting that these two should be girlfriend and boyfriendUser engages in chat with Xiaoice

One interesting example is Xiaoice, a natural language chat bot which is very successful in China. Xiaoice can hold a really long conversation on any subject.She has a personality of a teenage girl, and we see that users are actually very engaged they tell her secrets and sentences like I love you, which is crazy because they know shes a bot!9

Microsoft Tay

Not all the examples are so positive. Have you heard about Tay? In a similar way to Xioaice, we wanted to create a bot that will be able to chat with users in English. Tay was created using the same technology and was trained using public data that is available on the web: public conversations and comments. But apparently, people on the internet are not always so nice, and Tay has become a not so nice bot. About a day after Tay was release, she started twitting some unpleasant tweets, and in 2 days she was removed. But as Satya said were back to the drawing board, trying to understand why it didnt work in the US and how to do it right.10

Human assisted AI:M is a digital assistant thats part AI, part human. Facebook M

Another example is FBs M, which is actually hybrid: its a bot based on AI, but if it doesnt have the answer it will fallback to a human. And as the user you wont even know if youre talking to a bot or a real person.11

Scheduling bots

Another category of bots is scheduling bots: I mentioned my story with Amy at the beginning, and there are more examples like Clara, Julie, and Meekan which is actually an great bot created by an Israeli started who was acquired by Doodle about 4 months ago.12





Gets to know me

Gets things done

One step ahead

Another category of bots is scheduling bots: I mentioned my story with Amy at the beginning, and there are more examples like Clara, Julie, and Meekan which is actually an great bot created by an Israeli started who was acquired by Doodle about 4 months ago.13


Another category of bots is scheduling bots: I mentioned my story with Amy at the beginning, and there are more examples like Clara, Julie, and Meekan which is actually an great bot created by an Israeli started who was acquired by Doodle about 4 months ago.14

And of course cat bots

Telegram bot store

And of course we cant have a new tech trend without cats!There are plenty of cat bots which can help you do important cat stuff like finding cat pictures, flower images and so on.15

bots are the new apps

Satya Nadella, CEO MicrosoftMarch 30, 2016

, , ... ...

Bots. Now in Skype.



And the announcement that was most close to my heart was Cortana in Skype.For those of you who are not familiar with Cortana, she is Microsofts digital personal assistant, available on Windows, Android, iOS, and windows phoneSince Cortana is your digital personal assistant, we keep looking at real personal assistants as an example. What would a real assistant do? And how can Cortana mimic this behavior?Since users are moving to messaging apps, it made a lot of sense that Cortana will be available in messaging. But we wanted to verify this hypothesis.


Based on a interviewing 20 personal assistantsWays of communicating with PAs

So I did a small research, interviewing 20 real life personal assistants. Not only in the tech market in Israel, but other markets as well. And this is what I found out:Managers communicate with their Pas using SMS and messaging app, and this is indeed the top communication method surpassing email and phone calls. The actual messaging app differs between markets for example in Israel it would be whatsapp, in the US it was actually SMS.Based on this research we decided its time to bring Cortana to messaging.20

1Its the same Cortana, available everywhere2Cortana is the one to help you find experts (discover bots)3Cortana holds your state and context and can pass it to the expert bot

We also defined a set of guidelines:its the same Cortana just like a real personal assistant, you can approach her in multiple ways, but she will always have the same knowledge.A good PA doesnt always have the answerCortana knows you, she can use this knowledge when finding experts for you - she holds your state and context and can pass them to relevant bots. For example telling the Starbucks bot which coffee I like and whats my shipping address.

And in Skype, weve introduced Cortana as the personal assistant that can also help you find bots.Its the same Cortana you already know from your other devices, she knows you and your preferences and can now help you in Skype as well. And as a real personal assistant, she doesnt always have the answer for you, but when she doesnt she will find the right expert to help you, in this case a bot.So, for example if I ask Cortana to get me some coffee, she will offer me some bots around me that can help, and when I chose one of them she will handoff the conversation to the bot and will also provide more context like the fact that I prefer a tall soy latte, my current location and in the future she might pay for me as well.

So are they here to stay?

So youre probably asking yourselves: is this a real thing? Are the here to stay or is it just a trend?My personal thought is that they are here to stay. Were using messaging more than anything. Im using messaging to interact with my friends, colleagues, family, and lately Im also using messages to schedule my Pilates classes, or the my dogs veterinarian. I would actually prefer using a service that can interact with me using IM, and I think its only the beginning of this change.

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