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Google plots a backstory for its AI assistant

It should help make the conversational bot more relatable.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
May 31, 2016
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David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Now that Google Assistant is promising two-way conversations, Google wants to give the artificial intelligence a little more personality. The company has asked both a freelance artist (Emma Coats) and the head of its Doodle team (Ryan Germick) to make Assistant more relatable to its human users through multiple techniques, including a possible "childhood" that you might identify with. You could also see a more Siri-like playfulness, with both ready-made answers for silly questions as well as a little vulnerability.

There's a practical reason for making you feel more at home with Assistant, of course. The easier it is to get along with the AI, the more likely it is that you'll use it -- and that, in turn, could lead to more internet searches. Not that many are likely to object. One of the biggest gripes with the current generation of AI helpers is their tendency to be cold and strictly task-oriented. Adding some character, even if it's pre-programmed, could help bring this smart software into the mainstream.

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