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Stack Overflow launches Microsoft AI-based chatbot

Stack Overflow, a popular online community for developers, tapped into the power of Microsoft’s Azure cloud and artificial intelligence technologies to create a new chatbot to help developers in a pinch.

As an online community for developers to learn, share their programming knowledge, and build their careers, Stack Overflow represents a ready reference for developers to go to for how-to information when they encounter programming dilemmas.

“Developers want to be in the zone. Anything that gets you answers without taking you out of that zone is powerful,” said Matt Sherman, engineering manager at Stack Overflow. “The promise of Stack Overflow’s bot, built with Microsoft AI, is to keep developers in the zone while they’re working on their code.”

Microsoft’s AI platform

Microsoft’s AI platform features tools like the Bot Framework, Cognitive Services, Cognitive Toolkit, Azure Machine Learning and other tools. These tools help developers infuse AI into existing applications and to quickly build new ones. The company’s goal is to bring these capabilities to the masses of developers. The Microsoft AI technology also is key to the company’s digital transformation strategy.

“In a market sense, Microsoft is working to democratize use of the technology by simplifying its use,” said Rhett Dillingham, senior analyst for cloud services at Moor Insight & Strategy. “In a competitive sense, Microsoft sees AI as a top opportunity to drive developer and data scientist preference for Azure tools that could influence enterprise I&O [infrastructure and operations] leader infrastructure decision-making towards Azure over AWS and Google.”

Moreover, in a blog post, David Fullerton, CTO of Stack Overflow, noted that the knowledge shared on Stack Overflow includes an ever-growing pool of information. This includes information on AI and related topics such as machine learning, natural language processing and deep learning. Stack Overflow hopes to make the Microsoft AI technology more readily available to developers.

“So, when Microsoft showed us how they were bringing AI to every developer through their platforms and tools, and asked if they could partner with us to create an AI driven experience for developers to use and learn with, we of course said yes,” he said.

Microsoft’s Stack Overflow Bot is the first step in the partnership.

Right information at the right time

Alex Miller, general manager of enterprise at Stack Overflow, added that “Bringing in tools like Microsoft’s advanced AI technologies and cognitive services and making them so accessible to developers through the Azure platform, helps every developer out there — making sure you have the right information at the right time.”

Also, Sherman indicated that the new AI capabilities can help with Stack Overflow’s talent business in terms of matching developers with the right opportunities – which the company has been working on for about seven years now.

“With tools like these advanced AI capabilities, we can take our matching to the next level,” he said.

Moreover, David Robinson, a data scientist at Stack Overflow, said the company already uses machine learning to help figure out what people are looking for so Stack Overflow can help to answer developers’ questions.

However, “With this bot, you can integrate that into the development environment so that developers can immediately get the answer to their question,” he said. “By making these tools readily available through Azure Machine Learning, I think that Microsoft is doing the data science community a great service.”