Google’s new artificial intelligence (AI) assistant announced last year along with the Google Pixel smartphones seems to have a more fleshed-out personality than its older competitors, and this is largely thanks to the AI’s ability to understand context. However, Android smartphone users who have spent time with the Google Assistant might also be aware that the new AI is rather witty and armed with numerous amusing replies when asked some personal questions. According to a recent BBC report, this sense of wittiness and awareness was partially created by a storyboard artist who previously worked on Pixar’s animated movie Brave, and is now working with Google as part of the Assistant Personality Team.
The Google Assistant is the result of joined efforts from various Google teams working on different aspects of the AI, one of which is known as the Google Assistant Personality Team. This group of employees isn’t necessarily involved with the Google Assistant’s inner workings, but instead, it consists of a group of writers, artists, and creative minds who work on giving the Assistant its personality and off-topic dialogue. One of the Google Assistant Personality Team members is a 31-year-old Emma Coats. In addition to Brave, Coats also worked on Pixar’s Monster University, and while working with Google she also creates her own short films. Coding the Google Assistant falls on Google’s team of software engineers, though Coats claims the Google Assistant Personality Team adds delight to the Assistant’s conversations whenever possible. “The rest of Google has all the useful parts of the Assistant covered,” says the artist, adding that the Personality Team supports Google’s engineers by coming up with new and fun things the Google Assistant can do.
The Google Assistant was initially launched exclusively on the Google Pixel smartphones, but the digital companion is now making its way to other smartphones running Android Marshmallow and Android Nougat. In any case, the Google Assistant Personality Team seems to have put a lot of effort into giving the AI a sense of personality, and Android smartphone users who have access to the Google Assistant can try and explore the companion’s chatty nature by asking more personal questions like “what is your name?” or “when is your birthday?”