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How The Onion and Pixar helped build Google Assistant

Google wanted to really bring their AI companion to life, so they hired folks from Pixar and the Onion to give it just the right amount of pizzazz.

Published onOctober 10, 2016

brian rakowski assistant demo -Google 2016

When Google Allo launched, many users were a little bit disappointed with what felt like a still in-production experience that lacked some key features. However, pretty much everyone was in agreement that Google Assistant, which was bundled with the messaging platform, was a pretty impressive piece of tech. It turns out that Google has put in a lot of legwork to make their digital assistant as conversational as possible, including pulling in the likes of Pixar and The Onion.

Google believes that the future of our technology will be intrinsically conversational. Their Home product is slated to go head to head with Amazon’s Echo, but Google’s search and AI tech so far outstrips the A-to-Z online store that this might not even be a contest at all. Furthermore, Google Assistant is already demonstrating itself to be far more personable than Echo’s AI Alexa or Apple’s Siri.

Google snags Pixar story artist to give Google Home, OK Google personality

To make this happen, Google sought out employees who were already in the personality game. The search giant conscripted story experts from Pixar to sculpt Assistant into an identifiable personality as well as Onion writers who would know how to give Assistant just the right amount of sass.

As Christopher Mims observed in a report for the Wall Street Journal, human beings are really good at anthropomorphizing. We’ll assign human characteristics to non-human entities even if none actually exist, but that won’t cut it for the future of technology. True social interaction with our tech will require virtual assistants to be instilled with distinct personalities and the ability to learn and grow in character arcs. Although hopefully not in the way that Microsoft’s recent experiment with Tay went down.

What do you think of Google Assistant and Google Home? Will the future of our technology increasingly look like the movie Her? Let us know your forecast in the comments below!

Google Assistant in Allo: The top features you should know

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