People are falling in love with Microsoft's 'Little Bing' virtual companion

HerWarner Bros.A scene from the film ‘Her’ in which Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with a virtual assistant played by Scarlett Johansson.

People in China are falling in love with Microsoft’s Xiaoice, a project that translates as “Little Bing,” according to GeekWire.

The software is used by more than 40 million people and gathers real-world data on how people communicate in online forums, social networks, and chat rooms to respond to queries.

Essentially, Microsoft has created a more personable version of Cortana or Siri.

“Xiaoice, by and large in terms of development of artificial intelligence, is already a huge milestone,” said Dr. Hsiao-Wuen Hon, who leads the project at Microsoft.

According to Hon, people are literally falling in love with “Little Bing.” New York Times reporter John Markoff noted at the GeekWire Summit that 25% of users — around 10 million people — have said “I love you” to the service.

“We’re trying to have a emotional connection with user,” said Hon. “While it gives you useful information, a lot of times it just wants to be your friend.”

Apple’s Siri has a personality which can often be humorous, but Microsoft appears to have taken it a step further. The New York Times looked at interactions with Xiaoice and found that it can identify personal messages — such as pictures of dogs — and carry out playful discussions.

“Little Bing” is available in China first because Microsoft R&D thought of the idea there, according to Hon. There are no plans to export the software but it is possible.

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