Artificial intelligence, in practice, isn’t very funny. Ask Siri or Amazon Alexa to tell you a joke, and you’ll probably get something a 10-year-old would scrunch her nose at.
Google wants to change that. The company unveiled Google Home, its Amazon Echo-like home assistant, last week. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google hired writers from places like Pixar and the Onion to help spice up the Home’s dialogue and give its AI more personality.
Apparently there’s more work to be done: As Tech Crunch points out, Google currently has a job listing for someone with “experience writing dialogue for plays/screenplays, fiction/interactive fiction, and/or comedy/entertainment.”
Personality can be hard to nail down in AI. Even if it has the ability to answer questions accurately, an electronic assistant tends to lack the pull that makes you want to keep talking to them once the novelty wears off.
A sense of humor could help solve that. For some people, it’ll be that emotional connection and unpredictability that keeps them using it–or gets them to buy it in the first place.
Google wouldn’t be the first to turn to creative types for help with its AI. Tech startup Anki hired an animator from Pixar to help give its new toy robot, Cozmo, some personality. The company went so far as to create a storyboard for Cozmo, making him not only a toy, but a character with different emotional states. As Anki recently told Inc., it takes one set of skills to create functional, robust AI–but a very different skill set to create something that can express emotion. Having teams with both sets can help give AI that extra push it needs.
Google Home will retail for $129 in stores and online beginning November 4.