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How Microsoft Is Making Cortana More Human

Microsoft wants to change the relationship you have with your personal voice assistant.

At this year's Build developer conference, the software giant revealed a vision in which every business has a personalized agent, just as every organization now has a website. But instead of developing a soulless encyclopedia of knowledge with a concrete set of skills, Microsoft is focusing on providing information in a more human way.

With the help of newly-acquired Semantic Machines, Microsoft created a new conversational engine that will transform Cortana from a voice assistant that answers commands to one capable of holding conversations.

In a brief video, the company showed a voice assistant rattle off tasks from a calendar app and agree to make edits where necessary. For example, the AI was able to rebook a meeting to a new room, then invite those who should attend.

A Cortana user then has a casual chat with the voice assistant, stringing together related commands as if she were having a conversation with a human. At one point, the user asks what restaurant she is meeting a coworker at, then asks for the weather at that location before getting directions sent to her car.

Microsoft will likely provide more details on the changes coming to Cortana at Build 2019. We'll update this article when we learn more.