What you missed in Big Data: AI continues to gain momentum

Artificial intelligence technology is finding its way to every corner of the modern enterprise. Last week Google set out to help organizations embrace the trend faster by acquiring a startup called API.AI Inc. that has developed a cloud-based chatbot builder.

The platform provides pre-packaged communications modules, a repository of encyclopedic data and other components that can be quickly cobbled together into a working artificial intelligence. API.AI claims that companies can use its service to build everything from Slack-based bots focused on a specific task to standalone virtual assistants capable of taking a wide range of different requests. Google will likely make the  technology part of its public cloud in the wake of the acquisition to try to gain an edge over better-established providers like Amazon.com Inc.

Oracle Corp. is pursuing a similar goal with the competing chatbot development tool that it unveiled at its annual customer conference last week. Like API.AI, the platform is available as a cloud service and promises to dramatically reduce the amount of work involved in artificial intelligence projects. It achieves the latter objective with a graphical interface that enables workers to create new applications using relatively straightforward drag-and-drop controls.

And while Google and Oracle are working to ease the creation of chatbots, the newly public Twilio Inc. is trying to help developers who use its VoIP APIs improve call quality in their apps. The company last week unveiled a service called Voice Insights that can detect when an end-user encounters communications issues and automatically generate a notification with troubleshooting instructions. If, for instance, mobile device owners accidentally mute the microphone during a conversation, the system will tell them to turn it back on before carrying on with the discussion.

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