Microsoft Corp., battling to improve its internet search capabilities and prove its mettle in the increasingly competitive field of artificial intelligence, is adding features to Bing that improve search within images and give people more context in answers.
The image feature lets users home in on parts of pictures to search for, if one is looking for similar necklaces to the one on a woman in a larger photo, for example. An upgrade to the “intelligent answers” feature gives users snippets of multiple responses and verified sources, a nod to addressing “fake news” and dodgy sites.
“Conversational search,” a feature Microsoft has been working to improve for years, adds to a user’s ability to construct queries in plain English and get a useful result — Microsoft showed it returning answers to the question: “Films directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks.”
“Conversational search uses large-scale machine learning so this is only going to get better over time,” said Kristina Behr, a manager of Microsoft’s AI team, at an event to show off the company’s work in San Francisco.