When It Comes To AI, Personality Is Everything

We’ve all engaged with a virtual assistant or chatbot that isn’t very helpful, or is even downright annoying. So how do we improve this technology? What goes into making AI more intuitive, more natural, more helpful, more… human? 

Join host Hans van Dam in a fascinating discussion with Jason Gilbert, the former film maker turned character designer who specializes in creating interactive personas for AI technology. Having worked with the likes of Facebook Messenger, Skype, Amazon Echo and Google Home, there’s a good chance you already “know” Mr. Gilbert’s work.

Jason is currently working with Intuition Robotics on robot assistant technology to help vulnerable senior citizens, work that, as he explains, goes well beyond just the technical challenges. How, for example, do you give a machine an authentic character so it forms a trusting relationship with people. 

How do you teach a machine to be empathetic? Where is the line between interacting with something and interacting with someone, and what happens if that line gets blurred? Hans and Jason discuss these questions and more, and their talk is sure to leave you pondering a few of your own.

Jason discusses his current work, his work with AnnA (you may have spoken with AnnA if you have an Amazon Echo), the background of AI character development (including a mention of the Turing test for all you Blade Runner fans), and the technology’s future potential across myriad applications. 

As it turns out, trying to make machines more human might just teach us a bit about humanity.

Episode links:


  • 00:55 Intuition Robotics LEQ robot assistant.
  • 03:15 The challenge of creating “artificial empathy.”
  • 06:26 Navigating the “Uncanny Valley” and the line between something and someone.
  • 10:40 “I love you, LEQ.”
  • 15:20 Creating authentic characters.
  • 23:45 The origins of AI conversation technology, AnnA and the Turing test.
  • 26:27 Mainstream embrace of the technology.
  • 33:36 The sky’s the limit.
  • 37:34 Bringing joy to people’s lives.