Microsoft today announced that it has acquired Semantic Machines, a startup based in Berkeley that wants to solve one of the biggest challenges in artificial conversational intelligence: making chatbots sound more human and less like, well, bots.
In a blog post, Microsoft AI & Research's technology director, David Ku, wrote that "with the acquisition of Semantic Machines, we will establish a center of excellence for conversational Artificial Intelligence at Berkeley to push the boundaries of what is possible in the language interfaces. "
According to Crunchbase, Semantic Machines was founded in 2014 and raised approximately $ 20.9 million in investor funds, including General Catalyst and Bain Capital Ventures.
In 2016, co-founder and chief scientist Dan Klein told TechCrunch that "Today's dialogue technology is primarily orthogonal, you want a conversational system to be contextual, so when you interpret a sentence, things do not remain isolated. "By focusing on memory, the Semantic AI can produce conversations that not only respond to or predict questions more accurately, but flow naturally.
Instead of creating their own consumer products, Semantic Machines focused on business customers. This means that it will fit well with conversational products based on artificial intelligence from Microsoft, including Microsoft Cognitive Services and Azure Bot Service, which are used by one million and 300,000 developers, respectively, and the virtual assistants Cortana and Xiaolce.