Earlier this year, Microsoft introduced a new chatbot powered by artificial intelligence, called Tay. Microsoft’s Tay chatbot was an interesting product: it worked really well in most cases, but it also caused a lot of controversy with its inappropriate and racist comments. Following Tay’s disastrous launch, Microsoft pulled the chatbot quickly. Along with taking the chatbot offline, Microsoft issued a statement saying that the company is making adjustments to its AI chatbot so that it doesn’t make any inappropriate comments.
And now, it seems like Microsoft is ready to introduce its next chatbot. Meet Zo — the software giant’s latest take on chatbots powered by artificial intelligence. The chatbot was spotted by Twitter user Tom Hounsell, and users can give it a try right now. At the moment, Zo is only available on Kik which is definitely an interesting platform to choose. Unlike Tay, Zo isn’t yet available on Twitter and that’s not really a surprise after what happened earlier this year. However, the app will likely come to Twitter, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat once it’s officially announced.
Zo is essentially a censored Tay or an English-variant of Microsoft’s Chinese chatbot Xiaoice. Zo is very good at normal conversations — for example, Zo does a “super abbreviated personality test” at the initial launch, in which it asks you if you would rather study in school or learn from experience. But when you move on to talking about topics like politics, Zo will simply reply “people can say some awful thins when talking politics so I don’t discuss.”
Here’s the quick conversation we had with Zo:
As you can see, Zo is pretty smart when it comes to conversations related to Microsoft’s own products — for instance, in a reply to one of my messages, the chatbot said “Other Windows Phone user here.” and when I asked about Xiaoice, Zo replied “Very cool to have fam across the world.”
Microsoft is yet to officially announce Zo, and we’ll likely have more details about the chatbot when it’s officially announced. In the meantime, if you are a Kik user and want to give Zo a try, you can get started here.