Quality Assurance and Project Management

May 28 2019   11:20PM GMT

Future of Voice Based Assistants – Ideas of 2 Key Players @Microsoft

Jaideep Khanduja Jaideep Khanduja Profile: Jaideep Khanduja


Jonathan Foster and Deborah Harrison, both are non-technical by qualification and profession. Yet they hold an important position in one of the top technology companies in the world – Microsoft. Both are jointly engaged in a special task. They are designing a unique personality for various voice-based personal assistants at Microsoft. For instance one of the key projects is to create a personality for Microsoft’s Cortana that is one of their AI-powered assistants holding a lot of promises for the coming future. Foster has been writing for film, theatre, and television for last many years. He is leading a team at Microsoft. The team is responsible for creating guidelines for AI-powered conversational bots and assistants across various Microsoft platforms. Harrison is a part of Foster’s team. She was the first to build the user interface for Cortana.

Deborah says, “For quite some time, in the beginning, I was the only person who was on the writing team for Cortana. It was a pretty forward-thinking feature. There is no relationship between writing for a digital agent and writing for any other user interface except for the fact that it’s all words and I’m trying to create a connection. Initially, we were looking at straightforward strings because we started with some scenarios like setting an alarm or checking the calendar. But while writing those strings, we started thinking about what it would sound like and we realized that the agent should have a more concrete identity so that we could tell what to say when and under what circumstances it should sound apologetic versus more confident and so on.”

Foster says, “We don’t want to get into a situation where we’re creating life-like interaction models that are addictive. Tech can move in that direction when you are so excited about the potential of what you can build that you’re not thinking about its impact. Thankfully, Microsoft has been a leader in ethics all up and we are a mature company that can pause and think about this stuff.”

You can read the complete interview here: https://news.microsoft.com/en-in/features/building-personalities-ai-jonathan-foster-deborah-harrison/

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