September 6, 2018

Real wisdom from an artificial intelligence

A user asked Google Assistant if she can pass the Turing Test, and posted her response to Reddit. Many of the comments fell under the sentiment that repeating someone else’s words isn’t true intelligence. “They all say exactly this, it’s programmed, hardly clever.” “TIL Mark Twain is artificial.” “Program gives out a hardcoded response to a specific input. That isn’t interesting at all.” Like Alexa and Siri, there’s an entire team of creatives behind Assistant’s personality who carefully craft her dialogue. Read more

September 3, 2018

The tension with personality

PullString CEO Oren Jacob gave an excellent talk on Storytelling in the Age of Conversational Interfaces at Google I/O 2017. Drawing from his experience at Pixar, he outlined his foundations of design in computer conversation. Part of this craft comes from traditional screenwriting, stage writing, poetry, prose, and the art of creating character, story, and dialog—the linear, narrative arts. And the other part comes from gaming, web and mobile design, and the art of creating engagement and retention—the interactive arts. Read more

August 25, 2018

Braille Nails

Shieseido’s Braille Nails are a set of 3D-printed press-on nails and a wearable camera badge that can describe nearby objects and environments for the vision impaired. It’s powered by the Google Cloud Vision API and has 85% accuracy. The camera badge recognizes the following gestures: Give a thumbs up to hear a description of what’s in front of you. Point at the sky to hear a weather report. Hold up your hand to hear your current location. Read more

August 23, 2018

Microsoft's obsession with teenage chatbots

Zo, XiaoIce, Rinna, and Ruuh are social chatbots developed by Microsoft, targeted at 18- to 24-year-olds in the US, China, Japan, and India respectively. All four chatbots are built on the same technology stack, and all four chatbots use personas modeled after teenage girls. In the US, Zo has chatted with more than 100,000 people, and holds Microsoft’s record for longest continual chatbot conversation: 1,229 turns, lasting 9 hours and 53 minutes. Read more

August 12, 2018


When I was in middle school, I went on Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour of the tunnels that were created following the Great Seattle Fire when, rather than raze it to the ground, the city rebuilt on top of itself. Listening to our tour guide tell stories under the light cast from purple glass sidewalk tiles, I fell in love with this idea of placing a narrative layer on top of the real world. Read more

2018 Brian Rose