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  • Amazon Announces Alexa Prize SocialBot Grand Challenge 4 Winners

    Amazon recently announced the winners of the 4th Alexa Prize SocialBot Grand Challenge, a competition for university students to develop conversational AI. A team from Czech Technical University (CTU) won first prize, while teams from Stanford University and University of Buffalo took second and third.

  • Facebook Open-Sources BlenderBot 2.0 Chatbot

    Facebook AI Research (FAIR) open-sourced BlenderBot 2.0, an AI chatbot that has long-term memory and can use internet searches for supplemental conversational context. The new model outperforms version 1.0, the previous state-of-the-art chatbot, achieving 55% improvement in use of previous conversations, according to human evaluators.

  • AWS Announces Enhanced Console Experience and New v2 APIs for Amazon Lex

    AWS recently announced updates to Amazon Lex, a service for building conversational interfaces into any application using voice and text. The service now has an enhanced management console and new V2 APIs, including continuous streaming capability.

  • Microsoft Introduces Azure Health Bot

    Microsoft recently introduced Azure Health Bot, an evolution of Microsoft Healthcare Bot that is becoming an Azure service with added functionalities. Built for developing virtual health care assistants, Azure Health Bot combines medical databases with natural language capabilities.

  • Blender, Facebook State-of-the-Art Human-Like Chatbot, Now Open Source

    Blender is an open-domain chatbot developed at Facebook AI Research (FAIR), Facebook’s AI and machine learning division. According to FAIR, it is the first chatbot that has learned to blend several conversation skills, including the ability to show empathy and discuss nearly any topic, beating Google's chatbot in tests with human evaluators.

  • Microsoft Introduces Power Virtual Agents, a No-Code Solution to Building AI Bots

    In a recent blog post, Microsoft announced the general availability (GA) of Power Virtual Agents, a service designed to democratize building conversational chatbots using a no-code graphical user interface. The service is part of the Microsoft Power Platform, which includes Power Apps, Power BI and Power Automate and democratizes access to building artificial intelligence-powered bots.

  • Microsoft Releases DialogGPT AI Conversation Model

    Microsoft Research's Natural Language Processing Group released dialogue generative pre-trained transformer (DialoGPT), a pre-trained deep-learning natural language processing (NLP) model for automatic conversation response generation. The model was trained on over 147M dialogues and achieves state-of-the-art results on several benchmarks.

  • Rasa Developer Summit: Production Grade AI Assistants

    Rasa, an open source framework that provides machine learning tools to build and deploy contextual AI assistants, recently held its developer summit in San Francisco. The speakers at the summit shared interesting enterprise case studies on using Rasa to build AI assistants. "Our primary goal for the Rasa Developer Summit was to build community," said Alex Weidauer, CEO & co-founder of Rasa.

  • Google Releases Two New NLP Dialog Datasets

    Researchers from Google AI released two new dialog datasets for natural-language processing (NLP) development: Coached Conversational Preference Elicitation (CCPE) and Taskmaster-1. The datasets contain thousands of conversations as well as labels and annotations for training digital assistants to better determine users' preferences and intentions.

  • Microsoft Previews Neural Network Text-To-Speech Capabilities

    In a recent blog post, Microsoft announced a public preview of their neural network-powered text-to-speech capability, which is part of their Azure Cognitive Services offering. Within this release, the service makes computer generated voices indistinguishable from actual recordings. This technology has applications in chatbots, virtual assistants and converting digital text into audio books.

  • Bringing the Humanity Back into Customer Support

    Treat your support team well and they will treat your customers well. Support teams need to be trained and trusted, they deserve autonomy and ownership over their work. Bots shouldn’t be used in customer support to help people solve problems; people need to help people even if it’s more expensive than hiring robots.

  • Spark the Change: Building Tomorrow’s Company

    Tomorrow’s company has to invest in well being, should move away from individual silos to team delivery, needs to have psychological space and safety, and must be able to deal with uncertainty. To build such companies we can use gamification, pretotyping, IoT, artificial intelligence, robots, chatbots and other conversational interfaces. We should focus on teams and question how we work together.

  • Chatbots 101 for Developers: Q&A with Anamita Guha

    Chatbots are becoming more critical to developers in their daily lives – from understanding how the technology operates, to creating better code. Developers tend to have a natural curiosity about bots and the tech behind it. Artificial intelligence tools exist to address emotional intelligence with chatbots in conversational interfaces.

  • UK Supermarket Launches Machine Learning Sommelier

    The UK arm of German supermarket company Lidl has launched a Facebook Messenger-based chatbot, designed to help customers choose the right wine to compliment their food or occasion.The chatbot, named Margot, uses a unique approach to NLU and can interact with shoppers to provide answers to frequently asked questions, pairing wines with food, finding a wine and taking a quiz.

  • JavaOne Keynote: Oracle Talks Blockchain, Bots and Serverless

    The developer keynote at JavaOne on Tuesday focused on communication and Oracle’s cloud offering. Oracle provided an update on Oracle Developer Community, the relaunched OTN that was announced at JavaOne last year, and provided a number of demos and overviews of Oracle Cloud.

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