Microsoft's Millennial Twitter chatbot is both totes cringey and epically awesome

Meet Cortana's younger, more annoying, but definitely entertaining sister.

Everyone just stop right now and check out Microsoft’s new Tay chatbot, an “AI fam from the internet that’s got zero chill.” Guys, this is everything. OMG!

Slightly awkward? Yep. Probably a bit derogatory towards Millennials? Um, yeah. Hilarious and worth checking out for a good chuckle? Yeah, I’d say so.

If you have an account on Kik, GroupMe, or Twitter, you can begin interacting with Tay right now. “Tay is designed to engage and entertain people where they connect with each other online through casual and playful conversation,” according to the Tay website. “The more you chat with Tay, the smarter she gets, so the experience can be more personalized for you.”

Why this matters: The AI chatbot was designed by Microsoft's Research and Bing teams, which will use its interactions to develop greater understanding of natural conversation for its user base, presumably those who think Microsoft’s Cortana is too old and staid to bother with. At the bottom of the page is the key phrase: “Tay is targeted at 18- to 24-year-olds in the U.S., the dominant users of mobile social chat services in the U.S.” Millennials, in other words.

Play with Tay

To interact with Tay via Twitter, all you need to do is tweet at the @TayandYou account. Eventually, she’ll ask you to interact with her via DM, but she’s much less responsive there. Keep the chats public, for now.

Microsoft said that Tay represents an odd fusion of “AI and editorial developed by a staff including improvisational comedians,” and it shows. Tay definitely has personality—maybe too much personality. Ah, who are we kidding? This is awesome.

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Tweet a pic, and Tay will comment on it. She’ll apparently tweet emoticons at you, and you can guess what they mean. And, of course, you can chat—but be sure you speak Millennial.

The information that Tay is keeping an eye out for is equally strange: your nickname, gender, favorite food, ZIP code, and relationship status. You can delete the informaton that Tay collects about you if you submit a request via the website.

Microsoft Research has gained a reputation for teasing human assistance, if not personal information, out of people with its wacky websites, such as robots that attempt to guess the age of a picture. But this clearly is the best thing ever.

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Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
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