September 6, 2018

Real wisdom from an artificial intelligence

A user asked Google Assistant if she can pass the Turing Test, and posted her response to Reddit.

Google Assistant doesn't mind if you can tell she's not human

Many of the comments fell under the sentiment that repeating someone else’s words isn’t true intelligence. “They all say exactly this, it’s programmed, hardly clever.” “TIL Mark Twain is artificial.” “Program gives out a hardcoded response to a specific input. That isn’t interesting at all.”

Google Assistant wonders if she actually feels emotions

Like Alexa and Siri, there’s an entire team of creatives behind Assistant’s personality who carefully craft her dialogue. Principal designer Ryan Germick says:

“One of our principles is that we speak like a human but we don’t pretend to be one. We’re not trying to fool anybody. But to be honest, where we draw the line, we’re not really sure. It’s so new that we’re constantly trying to figure out what the right line is.”

These same naysayers willingly suspend their disbelief for the sake of enjoying fictional or fantastic stories, but the context around games and movies is very different. With chatbots, their adjacency to everyday, normal life causes some people to reject their value as dull, uninteresting toys, or at best, a voice actor reading lines from a script.

But it’s not just voice assistants and virtual influencers reading from scripts—it’s customer service agents, too.

Hilton asks guests to rate their stay on a 1-10 scale

None of my friends have ever asked me to rate my satisfaction on a scale from one to 10, with 10 being excellent. But Ellie is a real person behind a canned response. She checked me into my room.

Repetition doesn’t spoil the prayer: every day, bots become more like people and people become more like bots. Chatbots’ adjacency to everyday life creates a challenge, but also an opportunity to blur the lines between our physical and digital worlds.

2018 Brian Rose