Baidu Announces a Virtual Assistant

The Chinese Internet giant, Baidu, launched a conversational personal assistant service called Duer at a company event held in Beijing Tuesday. It is just the latest sign that we could soon forgo swiping and typing for chatting with our computers instead.The assistant service is designed to provide quick and easy access to Baidu’s various Internet services and to engage in a dialogue with users rather than simply being voice-controlled. Duer (which means “Du secretary”) is bundled with the latest versions of Baidu’s apps for smartphones. Duer’s success will depend on how well it can parse naturally spoken language. This is notoriously difficult, although researchers have been making significant progress in recent years in both speech recognition and, to a lesser degree, natural language processing thanks to a powerful machine-learning technique…


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