Google Assistant is getting a sense of humor from 'The Onion'

Alphabet and Amazon are betting you'd like to hear a joke.

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REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach
REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach

As Google Home gets closer to launch, the AI assistant is not only getting smarter, but also a little more friendly and -- hopefully -- a whole lot funnier. As the Wall Street Journal's Christopher Mims notes in a piece about friendly AI like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant, Alphabet's big play for the space includes hiring up comedy writing alumni of Pixar and The Onion.

While none of the major AI assistants on the market today or coming soon are truly "artificial intelligence" (that is: the device itself doesn't actually understand the conversation) people have a natural tendency to form an emotional connection with the little robot voice in the kitchen speaker. So, subtle improvements like a witty joke or unexpected bit of humor can go a long way to improving the user experience, especially as voice and conversation becomes the interface itself. Although Siri and Alexa already have a few jokes in their repertoire, they tend to be pretty bad and definitely don't have quite the same punch as the topical humor of "America's Finest News Source."

Since Amazon and Alphabet's endgoal is to get Alexa and Google Assistant into any connected device within earshot, then it's good to know those devices will at least have a sense of humor about listening to us humans 24 hours a day.

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