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Microsoft giving Xiaoice 'personality'

The major upgrade of the company's chatbot will make Xiaoice a more"emotional companion and assistant".

Microsoft is expanding its artificial intelligence services in China with an upgrade for AI chatbot assistant Xiaoice and a new partnership with top local firms, it said yesterday.

Xiaoice, with 660 million users around the world, is getting one of the biggest upgrades in China today which will will make it more interactive as an "emotional companion and assistant", said Harry Shum, Microsoft executive vice president of AI and research.

Microsoft also announced new partnerships with Huawei, Xiaomi, Tencent and NetEase on smart devices, online music, news and various digital entertainment services. 

“AI has huge potential in the regional markets that have populations of more than 100 million," Shum said.

Xiaoice is used on Huawei smartphones, Xiaomi's IoT devices like smart speakers and NetEase’s online music and news services. Microsoft will also seek opportunities to commercialize AI services in the media and publishing industries. 

Besides Microsoft, overseas giants including Google, Apple and Qualcomm are also investing heavily in  AI in China. 

China is pushing the development of the AI industry and is aiming for a core market worth more than 150 billion yuan (US$22 billion) by 2020,  according to the State Council, China’s cabinet.

Zhu Shenshen / SHINE

Microsoft will upgrade its AI female assistant chatbot, Xiaoice,


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