An interesting conversation with Google Assistant

By | March 13, 2017

If you have read my previous posts you know that I have an interest in AI and machine learning. Recently my phone was updated to include Google Assistant. For those using the iPhone Google Assistant is the Android version of Siri and supposedly smarter at doing things for you. While I have already been using Google Now( the older version ) for some time and feel comfortable using it I wasn’t ready for what happened next. As an adult I know how to use these tools and so it didn’t really dazzle me when I could send out email or open YouTube videos using voice. But when my 6 year old got hold of my phone that is when I realized that things have actually changed.

I find it difficult to keep my daughter entertained so it was shocking that she spent a solid 45 minutes using Google Assistant and didn’t get bored even once. I have previously talked about The Turing Test. Which according to google is

“a test for intelligence in a computer, requiring that a human being should be unable to distinguish the machine from another human being by using the replies to questions put to both.”

After what I observed I would like to propose a new definition.

“a test for intelligence in a computer, requiring that a human being should be able to distinguish the machine from another human being by using the replies to questions put to both while still being able to interact with the machine as if it is a human being”

While this might seem like chat bots are included there is a key distinction here, the user is still treating the machine like it would a friend. I am obviously referring to the emotional aspect. When I use Google Assistant I treated it like a machine doing a job for me but when my daughter used it she treated it like a friend who maybe has some difficulty understanding the language. While at the same time being aware that she is talking to a machine resulting in her saying things like “What is wrong with you” something she would never say to any actual person. Naturally google replied “I am sorry I might be a little buggy” and my daughter replied “like a lady bug”

The fact is that depending on the age and inclination to imagine/ ignore a few things computers are already capable of passing the truing test. The two played tic tack toe for about 10 minutes and I believe google graciously let her win. Look at me I am already referring to Google assistant like its human. The fact is if a machine can keep a 6 year old with a short attention span engaged in conversation for 45 it’s a big deal.

While I am not ready to a have a Google assistant Powered T-800 babysit I think the future is looking good for AI and everything it can do for us. All we need now is to get it into the hands of the needy.