Microsoft Zo: New AI Chatbot Is a Safe Re-Start After Tay Debacle

Stay safe, stay alive. For Microsoft, it does not have to be that hard to live the statement. After burning its fingers once, Microsoft has taken a second dare at Artificial Intelligence (AI) with its newly tested chatbot. Named “Zo”, the AI chat-bot was never expected to haul the usual load of expectations that marketers often have with a new launch. In fact, this millennial-minded bot is the least Microsoft could do, especially when its first attempt at AI failed miserably. The ghost of “Tay”, Microsoft’s first AI bot was pulled down just 24 hours after its launch. Microsoft Zo, however, has survived the month and its prospects look bright in the future.

What is Microsoft Zo all about?

AI Zo is successor of Microsoft Tay. Currently Zo is exclusively available on the messaging app, Kik. Developed with Twitter users in mind, the software accepts invitation from Kik users with a Twitter handle. For non-Kik users, it can be used by Facebook Messenger, Twitter, GroupMe and Snapchat too.

It is obvious that the developers are still testing the waters with AI bots before coming up with something that is not just intelligent but also discrete with its conversations. Microsoft Zo may not respond intelligently but it is at least a safe start. In fact, it easily manages to break the ice with the users with a rather ‘’blabber-inspired” lady talks.

After Tay’s disastrous racist hangover, Microsoft evidently wants to play it safe with chatbots. In retrospection, it renders the purpose of making AI the go-to technology in marketing stack obvious.

In short, Microsoft Zo could be the forefather to all enterprise chatbots that come up in 2017 and beyond.

How to chat with Zo

  • Download Kik on your smartphone and create an account.
  • Open Chat, and enter the user name “”.
  • Chat box pops up where you can ask Zo questions similar to what you do with your friends and even strangers.

However, the chatbot is not programmed to answer dubious political questions and seems to walk the neutral line. Moreover, the chatbot answers in robotic single words; or at most a short sentence with few friendly emoticons.

Microsoft Zo does not respond to words like sex, violence, drugs, weed, guns, bombs and slangs programmed into its artificial soul.

Smart Computing is the future of Marketing

Microsoft is not the lone heavyweight tech giant pushing AI-based chatbot for marketing. Google Amazon, Apple and a bunch of new start-ups are building their portfolio around machine learning and AI-based marketing automation. Building chatbot based on current marketing technology is still in its nascent stage, and that’s probably why Microsoft preferred to launch Zo on Kik. As on May 2016, Kik had over 300 million registered users. Launching it on Kik is safer than Twitter considering the previous experience.

For now, marketers have to still wait for a virtual assistant that demonstrates advanced communication learning, with advance intelligence. Microsoft Zo may not be there as yet, but it’s definitely a safe start.


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