New ‘business bots’ designed by Microsoft could soon revolutionise how companies interact with customers.
The social bots are automated programs which could represent businesses in humanlike fashion on the technology giant’s Skype telephone service.
“We want to build intelligence that augments human abilities and experiences,” Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella told the Build developer conference in San Francisco.
The Microsoft Bot Framework, which at present consists of half a dozen tools to help coders create bots, would allow businesses to integrate them into their existing apps.
“It’s about taking the power of human language and applying it pervasively to our computers,” Nadella said during the keynote speech of the conference.
“We think this can have as big an impact as the graphic user interface on desktop or touch on mobile.”
Microsoft digital assistant Cortana is also set for updates which will allow it interact with bots on the user’s behalf across iOS and Android operating systems as well as Windows.
Mr Nadella said the updates will make Cortana “a truly unbounded personal assistant that’s always with you”.
Skype group program manager Lilian Rincon demonstrated just how an interaction between social bots and Cortana might look.
Displaying an exchange of texts inside Skype in which Cortana automatically booked a hotel room through a bot, she said: “Right away what you’re seeing here is that the agent, Cortana, is actually brokering the conversation with the third party bot.”
Other examples on stage included a person ordering a pizza through a bot.
“Skype bots will come to life through messaging today, and in the future will be available for audio and video calling as well,” Microsoft said in a statement.
“Each bot will enhance your Skype experience in its own way, bringing a new dimension into your everyday Skype chats by helping turn your ideas and plans into actions.”
Microsoft recently unveiled Tay, an intelligent bot which publicly learned how to interact with the public on Twitter.
However Tay was quickly taken off the social network after it was targeted by trolls and began to mimic racist and sexist opinions.
“We quickly realised that it was not up to this mark,” Nadella said of the experience.
“We’re up to the drawing board.”