IDA exploring use of chat bots to help users navigate government e-services

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said his company is committed to playing a key role in the emerging market for artificial intelligence-based chat software.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said his company is committed to playing a key role in the emerging market for artificial intelligence-based chat software.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE - The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) is exploring the use of chat bots to help users navigate online government services, and will partner with Microsoft to develop the technology.

The proof-of-concept project, Conversations As A Platform, was announced on Tuesday (July 12) at the World Cities Summit by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister-In-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative.

"I believe there are more intuitive ways for government services to be delivered to our citizens. Everybody expects responsive and personalised interactions in real time," Dr Balakrishnan said.

Mr Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, said in a statement: "As everything around us becomes more digitised, Conversations As A Platform is a new shift that applies the understanding of human language to computers and computing, which can transform every industry."

There will be three phrases to the project.

In Phase One, chat bots will draw on a database to answer questions from users about public services.

In Phase Two, they will be able to help users complete simple tasks on government websites.

In the final phase, chat bots will be able to respond to personalised queries from users, and to provide a conversational experience.

No timeline for the project was given.