One of the more interesting topics for Microsoft Build is around Cortana and the ability to create Cortana skills.

Anybody who has used Alexa is familiar with the skills and the functionality that it can add to the device or service.  For Cortana, the key to Microsofts Language Understanding Intelligent Service, or LUIS, is that it gives Cortana the ability to understand language contextually.  Why is that important?  Using LUIS, it gives your app the ability to communicate with people in the way that they speak.


Anybody who has kids understands why this is important.  As your kids grow up and begin to learn more words, they not only learn the words but also how to use them and interact with them.  With Cortana or human-computer interactions in general, one of the biggest problems that users run into is the inability of computers to understand what a person wants and going even further, the computer not having the ability to find the information that is relevant to the users intent.  For example, I can tell Cortana that “I want a new computer.”  How should Cortana respond?  What if I tell Cortana I’m hungry.  What should Cortana do?

With LUIS, you have simple tools that enable a developer to build a language model that gives you the ability to define and set intents and entities that allow your application or bot service to first understand the question or command and then act accordingly.

Why should a developer use LUIS?

From a development perspective, LUIS is fast and LUIS is easy.  Developers can enable it by simply deploying an HTTP endpoint and then using the words to interpret the intentions that they convey.   After a few dozen interactions are completed, LUIS will then begin to adapt through active learning.   The concept is similar to artificial intelligence in that you are giving the system some data and then after some time the system will start to learn what to do with that data.  Again, going back to my example of kids, as they learn the words they then begin to learn what those words mean and what to do with them.


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