Microsoft announced today a new conversational engine that has been produced for Cortana’s artificial intelligence. The new AI conversational engine for Cortana has been worked on for the last few years, ever since Microsoft acquired Semantic Machines in 2018.

Head over to a Microsoft social media page, and you’ll notice plenty of Windows fans lauding the personal AI assistant they are greeted with every morning after turning on their computers, but on the whole, Microsoft wouldn’t be impressed with how little Cortana has been used by the general population. Part of the reason for that is because she was rolled out before she was truly useful.

Cortana: Conversational AI
A woman engages in a fluid, back-and-forth dialogue with an intelligent assistant that helps her juggle upcoming appointments on her calendar. The assistant uses machine learning technology pioneered by Semantic Machines, which Microsoft acquired in May 2018 and will incorporate into all of its conversational AI products and tools. Photo by Microsoft.

If you used Cortana in her early stages, she could hardly work out what you were saying. You felt guilty about this — “did I mumble or does my speech need working on?” you ask yourself as you repeat into the microphone one more time what you want Cortana to help you with. But as the years passed, Cortana’s ability to comprehend speech was vastly improved. The problem though is that she can only react to specific voice commands and doesn’t have the ability to understand whatever comes to your mind.

Soon that’s all about to change. The point of Microsoft’s new conversational AI technology coming to Cortana is so you can speak as you usually would and the personal assistant will have the knowledge to understand what it is you’re saying. While this may sound too good to be true, remember that it has been worked on now for quite a few years.

In addition to understanding a more natural human conversation, conversational AI will bring the ability for Cortana to handle multiple voice commands at once, which will make her far more skillful than before. This means if you have something else on your mind, you can go ahead and say that while she is still trying to answer your first question, and she should handle that just fine.

All the new features that you will find coming with conversational AI will be done in an attempt to satisfy your own mind when talking to Cortana with the goal to make her as intelligent as possible. And if she can truly handle more than one question at a time, then who knows. Maybe your conversations may actually go smoother than they usually do with people.

Via: What’s Microsoft’s vision for conversational AI? Computers that understand you

(This article was last updated on February 10, 2021.)

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