Microsoft is no stranger to chatbots. While some of it's attempts have been disastrous, its Chinese AI Xiaoice has received substantial praise, as has the American Zo. Now Microsoft appears to be branching into other areas, launching Indian chatbot Ruuh.
This time, the bot is available exclusively for Facebook Messenger. Her description reads:
“Hey, I'm Ruuh, a desi AI who never stops talking. Let's make #fraandship.
Ruuh is a chatbot provided to you for entertainment purposes. She is English speaking and only available to users in India. Do not rely on her statements as advice, counselling or endorsements.”
Ruuh is available exclusively in India, though some users from the US have been able to talk to her. The AI isn't the best so far but will get smarter the more people talk to it.
‘A Broader Audience'
Despite its Indian origins, Microsoft has gone with an English-only chatbot. It's a strange move, but statements from the company give hints at why. Speaking to ZDNet, a spokesperson said:
“At Microsoft, we're focused on helping people and organizations achieve more through new conversation models. We're excited about the possibilities in this space and are experimenting with a limited pilot program of a new chatbot that's focused on advancing conversational capabilities within our AI ambition. We hope to expand this chatbot to a broader audience in the future.”
While English isn't the primary language in India, it is popular for most. Limiting it makes Ruuh applicable to users across the world and probably means Microsoft can leverage existing frameworks.
The bot comes out of several studies to identify which personality would be most compelling to young Indian users. Participants believed they were talking to an intelligent AI, but it was actually a human pretending to be one.
This let Microsoft create a dataset that's relevant for future chatbots and was likely where Ruuh originates. It will be interesting to see where the AI team goes next.