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  • The Bot Politic

    The New Yorker - 12/31/2016

    But when I spoke with Lisa Feldman Barrett, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, she thought that my job seemed easy—maybe too easy. “People have always created personalities for objects,” she said. “People have always talked to their cars; they’ve talked to their plants; they’ve talked to their blankets; they’ve talked to their stuffed animals. It’s just that now the things talk back.” Beyond talking back, though, Kai had responsibilities. It had to be friendly but authoritative, engaging but not creepy; unlike a person, it could never walk away. Anna Kelsey, my counterpart at the startup x.ai, put our herculean, or maybe Sisyphean, task in cheerful terms. The A.I. assistants that she designs, Amy Ingram and Andrew Ingram, schedule meetings over e-mail. “The way I think about Amy and Andrew is, you’re growing up, and your mom says, ‘There’s no way you can make everyone like you,’ ” Kelsey said brightly. “With Amy and Andrew, it’s, like, challenge accepted!”

     

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