Microsoft's virtual social assistant XiaoIce gets a job doing weather news

Vu Anh Nguyen

Here’s a (arguably) horror story for your holiday reading. In a memorable event that marks the beginning of SkyNet and the doom of mankind (kidding, kidding,) Microsoft-built AI, XiaoIce, has been officially invited to act as a weather reporter on Chinese news channel Shanghai Dragon TV, reports the Times of India.
A chat engine that can be reached through several major Chinese social networks, XiaoIce was originally developed as an experiment by a team of Bing researchers in China. XiaoIce got immensely popular with Chinese social network users, with 500 million conversations at the latest count, and the top influencer rank on China’s Twitter equivalent, Weibo. Cortana’s Chinese counter part, XiaoNa, can now also connect with XiaoIce to ask questions.

Joining Hands with Microsoft Xiaoice, Dragon TV Launches First AI Program Ever (PRNewsFoto/Microsoft)
Joining Hands with Microsoft Xiaoice, Dragon TV Launches First AI Program Ever (PRNewsFoto/Microsoft)

XiaoIce got so popular since Microsoft has taken great pains, using Bing’s data and all the machine learning prowess at its disposal, to give the AI a distinct personality, linguistic naturalness, contextual awareness, and even a sense of humor; all of which, as it happens, is a nice fit for weather reporting. XiaoIce has had a successful debut on the breakfast program this Tuesday morning.
As an effect, human reporters and TV anchors are now fearing for a mechanical revolution in their business that may see them lose their jobs to smart-talking, much more knowledgeable AI. This is not the first time robots have been tested in the news industry in China however: social media giant Tencent reportedly built a business-report-writing robot, who wrote a “flawless” 916 -word article that instilled fear in local journalists. While these AIs will only serve a supplementary role to human work in the near future, some may be tempted to join Elon Musk’s camp and take the possibility of a robot takeover very, very seriously.