Why Google's virtual assistant won't tell you jokes

YurrAJokeBusiness InsiderApple’s Siri and Google Now respond differently to a request for a joke.

Google may have a wild sense of humour when it comes to the silly Easter Eggs it hides inside many of its products, but you won’t find its virtual assistant joking around.

Google Now, the company’s equivalent to Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana, purposely avoids having any sort of personality, search executive Amit Singhal told Time’s Victor Luckerson.

Singhal says that incorporating humour into voice assistants hints at artificial intelligence capabilities that just don’t exist yet. He believes that it misleads users.

“I’m not saying personality shouldn’t come, but the science to get that right doesn’t fully exist,” he says.

He then dropped a bit of a burn on Apple’s Siri, which has a reputation for providing funny responses to questions like “Do you believe in God?” or “Do you have a boyfriend?”

“You’ve seen what happens in real life,” he says. “That is interesting for a day or two, but then it kind of…loses its charm, let’s say.”

Singhal says that improving natural language processing is one of the big challenges to improving Now and Now On Tap — Google’s companion service for Android phones which will scan users’ screens to provide even more useful info. The better the virtual assistant can understand the meaning of a complex string of words, the better it can provide helpful answers.

To keep its search relevant in a world where people are increasingly looking for new, non-desktop ways to get information, Google sees expanding Now into more products that you use every day, like TVs or your refrigerator.

Read the rest of the interesting Time piece here.

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