Google has enlisted help from Pixar and The Onion writers to give its new AI helper that dash of humanity they feel will be a game-changer for the tech industry.

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Search giant Google hopes to make its new AI helper more likeable by taking a cue from animation studios Pixar and news satire publication The Onion. The company hopes the writers’ talent will help “infuse personality” into the helper, which will interact with users from Google’s new Pixel phones, Duo app, and Home speakers.

The ultimate goal is to make a personal software agent that people can actually relate to and care for, and Google thinks a livelier personality and a dash of humor are the way to make it happen.

The announcement came after Google unveiled its Pixel smartphones earlier this month, and in anticipation of the Home speaker — which will both feature the helper. Gummi Hafsteinsson, product-management director of Google Home, told The Wall Street Journal that the writers are already hard at work on making the Assistant more relatable. He says Google wants users to feel an emotional connection to the system, but the technology ‘is still a ways off’.

“Our goal is to build a personal Google for each and every user,” said said Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google.

While the other virtual assistants on the market, such as Siri or Alexa, have some sort of personality to engage users, they’re still very basic. They can tell jokes or do some tricks and are actually quite funny, but they can’t compare to a conversation with an actual human. Their responses are scripted, and if they can’t solve a task they respond with ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I’m not sure’. Google wants to mix their proprietary AI tech — which beat a grandmaster Go player twice — with humor to make an Assistant you can talk to as if it were a human.

This may very well change how we think about and interact with AI, but actually implementing it into a device will be much harder, investors point out. They’d rather see more attention to issues such as latency saying that people don’t have time to deal with it while conversing, The Wall Street Journal writes.

Google officially unveiled its range of new products in San Francisco, including the Pixel and the Home, earlier this month. Most of them were leaked prior to the event, however. Still, the event gave Google a chance to announce that starting in November, the devices will be available in Canada, the UK, Germany, Australia, and India. And they will all share the same AI.

“We’re at a seminal moment in computing,” said Pichai. “We are evolving from a mobile first to an AI first world. Computing will be everywhere, people will be able to interact seamlessly, and above all it will be intelligent.”

If the AI comes out as a tumbled mix of Pixar and The Onion humor, it might just be the best thing that anyone has ever sold in the history of everything. We’ll just have to wait and see.


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