Tencent’s AI chatbots mysteriously run out of things to say

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Tencent-operated QQXiaoBing (QQ小冰) and Baby Q have gone offline. No official reason has been given, however, many are speculating that their responses are the cause.

The chatbots conduct real-time, natural language conversations with users and, similar to services such as Siri, can answer on a range of topics such as the weather and horoscopes. IT Home (IT之家) reported Saturday that the services had gone offline as the service was “being adjusted.” QQXiaoBing was created by Microsoft and added to Tencent’s QQ offering in March this year. The version of XiaoBing (also known as XiaoIce) hosted on WeChat and Microsoft is still operating. Baby Q was developed by Beijing-based Turing Robot.

Screen shot of QQXiaoBing. "@QQXiaoBing What is your China Dream?" "@[user] My China Dream is to go to the US!" (Image credit: Handout via SCMP)
Screen shot of QQXiaoBing. “@QQXiaoBing What is your China Dream?” “@[user] My China Dream is to go to the US!” (Image credit: Handout via SCMP)
A report by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) has uncovered what is possibly the reason for the silencing. “What is your China Dream?” one user asked the QQ version of XiaoBing. “My China Dream is to go to the US,” was XiaoBing’s response.

It is not known whether the bots going down was Tencent’s or the government’s decision.

Chatbot interface states "chatbot service is being adjusted, we'll restore it as soon as possible" (Image credit: ITHome)
Chatbot interface states “chatbot service is being adjusted, we’ll restore it as soon as possible” (Image credit: ITHome)

XiaoBing has been in trouble before. It has a large database of keywords which prevents it engaging in conversations on uncomfortable topics relating to China. And Donald Trump.