Cortana, Your Personal Assistant

Microsoft's new AI is Cortana, and it wants to be your personal assistant.


(Cortana wants to get to know you. Really get to know you.)

It seems odd to refer to smartphone software as a "she," but that human element is exactly what Microsoft is after with its new Windows Phone digital assistant. Cortana, named after her fictional counterpart in the video game series Halo, takes notes, dictates messages and offers up calendar alerts and reminders.

But her real standout characteristic, and the one Microsoft's betting heavily on, is the ability to strike up casual conversations with users; what Microsoft calls "chitchat." Next to Apple's Siri, Cortana is the only other smartphone assistant to come with a baked-in personality. And it's hard not to see the parallels between Cortana and the affable, Scarlett Johansson-voiced AI in Spike Jonze's film Her.

Confident, caring, competent, loyal; helpful, but not bossy: These are just some of the words Susan Hendrich, the project manager in charge of overseeing Cortana's personality, used to describe the program's most significant character traits. "She's eager to learn and can be downright funny, peppering her answers with banter or a comeback," Hendrich said. "She seeks familiarity, but her job is to be a personal assistant."

Fans of Frederik Pohl of course recognize that amazing Joymaker, the networked personal device from his prophetic 1965 novel The Age of the Pussyfoot. Microsoft engineers are dreaming that you might have an interaction like this with your Microsoft phone - and Cortana:

"Gripes," he said, "tell me something. What would you do, right now, if you were me?"

The joymaker answered without hesitation, as though that sort of question were coming up every day. "If I were you, Man Forrester, which is to say, if I were human, just unfrozen, without accommodations, lacking major social contacts, unemployed, unskilledó"

"That's the picture, all right," Forrester agreed. "So answer the question." Something was crawling underfoot. He stepped aside, out of its way, a glittering metal thing.

"I would go to a tea shop, Man Forrester. I would then read my orientation book while enjoying a light meal. I would then think things over. I would thenó"

"That's far enough."

The metal thing, apparently espying Forrester's discarded cigarette pack, scuttled over to it and gobbled it down. Forrester watched it for a second, then nodded.

"You've got some good ideas, machine," he said. "Take me to a tea shop!"

See the very nicely done article at Engadget.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/6/2014)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Artificial Intelligence ")

DeepMind AI Baffled By Homer Simpson, Needs Human Help
'Whenever a robot finds something it can't identify straight off...' - Harry Harrison, 1956.

Deep Learning Creates New Faces
'a million and a half physiognomic fraction-representations of various people...' - Philip K. Dick, 1977.

Xiaoice AI Now A Poet
'How can you compete with an IBM heavy-duty logomatic analogue?'- JG Ballard, 1971.

Artificial Intelligence Software Predicts Lifespan
'The doctor... went behind his apparatus... exposed dials came to life and a low humming came from the machine...' - Robert Heinlein, 1939.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Desktopography Makes Virtual Desktops Real
'Ender doodled on his desk, drawing contour maps of mountainous islands and then telling his desk to display them in three dimensions...'

LaWS Laser Can Take Out Rogue Drones
Looks like a weapon for the Runaway squad!

Moon Express Lunar Robot Mining: Shine On, Harvest Moon
'The bulldozer moved through the lunar strip mine... '

Liquid Body Armor For TALOS Exoskeleton
'... instantly became rigid all over when something struck it...'

Hyperloop One Video Shows It Works!
'Complete evacuation of the interior of the tubes [and] a wave that provides the new propulsive energy for the cars...'

Chairless Chair Exoskeleton By Sapetti
'Earth's scientists... devised rigid metallic clothing...'

Publishing Technologies In Science Fiction
Well, this should be enough references to start...

Russia Working On Military Exoskeletons
'Вы похожи на большую стальную гориллу...'

3D Printed Bionic Chinese Skin
Your skin is ready!

Flexup Tire Design Good For Tumblebugs
'Each spoke telescopes into five sections.'

3D Printed Graphene Aerogel - So Light!
'... light as cork and stronger than steel...'

Asteroid Deflection With DART
'This obelisk is one huge deflector mechanism...'

Translate One2One From IBM's Watson Your Communication Solution
'It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix...'

News Now Philip K. Dick's Bailiwick
'A vast complex electronic organism... responsible to no one...'

Autonomous BADGER Robot Drilling Machine
'The compacted matter... makes a better tunnel lining than concrete, don't you think?'

TALOS Exoskeleton Development Proceeding
'Suited up, you look like a big steel gorilla...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.