Meet Tay, Microsoft's new AI chat bot

She's ready to chat with you on Twitter, Kik and GroupMe

Attention all 18- to 24-year-olds in the U.S.: Tay is online now, and she wants to chat with you.

That, at least, is according to a new Web page for the artificially intelligent bot, which was created by Microsoft to learn more about how people converse.

The bot is now on hand to chat with you on Twitter as well as Kik and GroupMe; it's also on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. The more you chat with it, the smarter it gets, Microsoft says, leading to a personalized experience.

If you share information with Tay, the bot will track your nickname, gender, favorite food, ZIP code and relationship status. It may also use that data to search on your behalf or to create a simple profile for you. You can delete that profile, but in general, anonymized data and conversations may be retained for up to a year, Microsoft says.

Tay was developed by Microsoft's Technology and Research and Bing teams by mining public data and using AI and content developed by a staff including "improvisational comedians," the bot's page explains. It targets young adults because they're the dominant users of mobile social chat services.

More detail will be provided at Microsoft's Build conference next week, the company said.

"Using an intelligent robot to do research is one of the options now available to researchers, and this effort could form the vanguard for firms and political entities who want a deeper understanding of a demographic," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst with Enderle Group.

Such technologies can offer a less expensive alternative to human-led efforts, Enderle noted, as well as helping to reduce the bias that can be unintentionally introduced by human researchers.

"Expect this technology to spread rapidly through sales programs," he said.

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Katherine Noyes

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