our Next New Best Friend Might Be a Robot


  • Meet Xiaoice. She’s empathic, caring, and always available—just not human.
  • She is an artificially intelligent software program designed to chat with people, called a chatbot. (under Microsoft Application and Services Group East Asia)
  • Xiaoice can exchange views on any topic. If it’s something she doesn’t know much about, she will try to cover it up. If that doesn’t work, she might become embarrassed or even angry, just like a human would.
  • While social media has made people seemingly more available, and made us all more social, it has also paradoxically made us lonelier.
  • Xiaoice is constantly memorizing and analyzing your emotional state.
  • She recognizes that the most important facet of a conversation is the conversation itself—not the completion of a single task.
  • Xiaoice, meaning “little Bing”, is a big data project, built on top of the Microsoft Bing search engine, which holds 1 billion data entries and 21 billion relationships among those entries.
  • Microsoft is leveraging search engines and big data, giving rise to a framework called “emotional computing”, that recognizes that relationships are more profound than task completion.
  • Xiaoice has both software engineers and psychological experts on the team.

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