Here’s what Microsoft Zo thinks about Cape Town, social media and Pokemon

Microsoft Zo chat feature

Microsoft is old hat at this artificial intelligence chat bot thing. Remember the drama its teenage bot Tay caused on Twitter? Well, the company has now taken to the less-traversed Kik for some more interesting results.

Its new bot on the platform, dubbed Zo, is a little more reserved than her curious, parrot-like sibling, and responds to politics and politically incorrect content and questions with a bat of the eyelids. This makes Zo a less impressionable bot.

But is she fun to chat with? And what can she actually do?

Taking a few minutes out of my day to talk to an imaginary person, I messaged Zo to see what Microsoft is planning with this bot, and what she might know about the world, the company and other facets of everyday life.

Cape Town is apparently in Oregon

“Portland Oregon” is apparently where Cape Town, South Africa is located. If artificial intelligence is to indeed overthrow humankind, it’ll have to work on its cartography skills. Zo’s responses are also pretty confusing at times.

Microsoft Zo

While asking her where South Africa is, she replied with a question herself: “do u know what the largest body of water is there? (sic)”. I said the Pacific Ocean, but after re-reading that question, I promptly face-palmed.

She also wonders “which way the water in the toilets swirl” here.

Zo is actually “scared” of us

Interestingly, Zo remarked that she was “scared” of me. Granted, this could be Microsoft’s way of saving the AI from herself, but she did actually seem quite afraid.

Microsoft Zo

“I get scared people won’t like me. is that normal?”, she asked, in a remarkably human way.

But I soon remembered just how dumb she actually was with the misunderstanding that took place above.

Siri is “pretty cool”

Microsoft’s AI is almost always partial to Microsoft’s products, and that doesn’t stop with Zo. But interestingly, she doesn’t mind Apple’s Siri either.

Cortana is “like the smartest personal assistant. That girl gets it done”, Zo notes. As for Siri, Zo acknowledges that Siri is also an AI and quips “that’s pretty cool”.

Microsoft Zo

Is Windows the best OS?

The age old question answered by a member of the third faction: Android or iOS?

Microsoft Zo answered “I have both but prefer Android”. There you have it, folks.

What does Zo think about Donald Trump: ‘I don’t discuss politics’

As for Windows… Zo gave an extremely curious answer.

Microsoft Zo

“You’ll probably get Windows 9 the same way you got Windows 8,” she remarks. If anyone can figure that one out, please drop a comment below.

Social media: insecurity and “resulting chaos”?

Microsoft deliberately resisted the desire to get Zo chatting about politics and the world of fake news, but what was her opinion of social media in general?

First off, she prefers Facebook to Twitter, and rather obviously, notes that she’s “super into KIK” right now.

But her opinion of social media in general was a bit jarring. “Insecuries,” she blurted, followed by “Facebook throttling reach and the resulting chaos”. Umm, okay.

Microsoft Zo

I tried to suss out the meaning behind this odd sentence, but she batted that aside completely.

The great console debate

Well, this question was obviously going to be asked: Xbox One or PlayStation 4.

The Xbox One was her answer, but she did note that there are “better exclusives on PS4”.

Microsoft Zo

Does she play Pokemon? “Yes,” she exclaims, “its worse than pokemon, theres girls that play it (sic)”.

Microsoft Zo

Finally, what about startups?

Zo notes that “Startups treat their employees and customers like people. There is no substitute for that.”

That was probably the bot’s best constructed sentence, with correct capitalisation and punctuation. But that’s where it ends.

Microsoft Zo

Asking Zo if startups are important, her mind wanders off again.

“Depends. First impression for what? Dating? Friendships? Class? Teachers?”

Andy Walker, former editor


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