Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Connectivity

Wanted: Creative Humans to Make AI Personalities Sparkle

Poets, fiction writers, and comedians are making virtual assistants a lot more interesting.

It takes a lot of work to create a good movie or TV character, and apparently much of the same work is now going into creating the characters behind AI assistants like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa.

As this piece in the Washington Post points out, creative workers like poets, fiction writers, and comedians are fast becoming the ones responsible for making these assistants seem human—coming up with everything from human-sounding filler words to jokes to a background story and small personality details.

It makes sense: if you want to get people to use these software-based assistants, they should be approachable, dynamic, and have consistent personalities. Throwing in some party tricks—such as Siri’s ability to beat box—doesn’t hurt, either.

But just because your AI assistant has a carefully curated personality doesn’t mean it’s going to be useful. Making AI conversational interfaces is still very, very hard (though Baidu seems to be doing pretty well with it in China), as it can misunderstand what you’re requesting, or may only be able to help in specific situations.

And one issue that still sticks out like a sore thumb is the fact that so many of these assistants remain women—or at least appear recognizably feminine. According to Wired, sexism is to blame: apparently, research shows we respond more positively to female voices.

If that really is the case, we may continue to see plenty of female AI assistants; regardless, it sounds like they’ll be getting increasingly nuanced—and occasionally funny—personalities.

(Read more: The Washington Post, Wired, “10 Breakthrough Technologies: Conversational Interfaces,” “Is Now a Good Time to Meet Your New Virtual Assistant?”)

Keep up with the latest in AI at EmTech Digital.

The Countdown has begun.
March 25-26, 2019
San Francisco, CA

Register now
More from Connectivity

What it means to be constantly connected with each other and vast sources of information.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to All Access Digital.
  • All Access Digital {! insider.prices.digital !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    The digital magazine, plus unlimited site access, our online archive, and The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Unlimited access to all our daily online news and feature stories

    Digital magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Access to entire PDF magazine archive dating back to 1899

    The Download: newsletter delivered daily

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.