Robots with soul? Alexa gets personality, Google Assistant gets jokes

What’s the deal with these voice assistants? You want them to do a job like telling you when to get up, what the traffic’s like and to order a few more boxes of shredded wheat because DAMN IT ALL, I forgot to go grocery shopping yesterday.

And you expect Alexa or Google Assistant to do it.

Certainly up until this point, the choice for many consumers was Amazon’s service — mainly through its series of Echo speakers — and it sufficed. But what engineers have tried to hit at with rich, contextual conversation paths was to serve more customers that would otherwise be turned off by stiff prompts and lack of verve. So, they put work into more interactions.

One Echo owner who was interviewed by the Journal, for example, says good morning and good night every day.

“It’s so funny because I think ‘Oh wow, I am talking to a machine,’ but it doesn’t feel that way,” Carla Martin-Wood, 69, said.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “nonutilitarian” interactions with Alexa have rocketed into the double-digit percentages. Amazon has since been working on adding in more cheeky, more natural responses to some common queries.

Google, with its newly-launched Assistant service, prepped for launch with the help of former writers with Pixar and Onion to help land more of the right emotional notes in its responses. The path to the company’s goal of “an emotional connection with the user,” though, is still a while off from achievement.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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About The Author
Jules Wang
Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.