Cortana cannot be arrogant while being funny says a developer

A smart speaker on a book

Personal Assistants are the future of mobile phones. There will be a time in this world where Operating Systems would become irrelevant and Personal Assistants would be the ones making all the things happening. This is bound to happen as any OS has its own expiry date and people in the future wouldn’t want to touch their phones for something they can do just by talking. Just like super-applications are going to dominate in the near future, Personal Assistants are the ones who are going to dominate the operating ways.

There will be a time, not long from now when people will choose phones depending on the Personal Assistants and not on the Operating System. The stronger the assistant, the better the phone. That said, Cortana is one such assistant which got stronger over the years. However, after being launched in 2013, it has fallen down the pecking order. Microsoft has also talked about this. Cortana had its own Operating System in Windows Phones OS but the American giant has decided to put an end to it.

The only remaining home for Cortana now is Microsoft’s Windows 10. The decouple search, where you can search your Personal Computer and also the web has Cortana to support it. There are certain areas where Cortana rises above every other assistant out there and that is her personality. Personality is something the company has worked extremely well, it seems like Microsoft has put in a lot of thought before rolling it out. There were separate people hired to develop the personality of Cortana.

Jonathan Foster and Deborah Harrison is the duo behind Cortana’s splendid personality. Foster has worked in Hollywood as a writer before joining Microsoft a decade ago. Harrison is the senior content experience manager and she is the first one to think and put in work to develop Cortana. Cortana is very specific when it comes to her answers. There are certain nuances which make us understand how much thought has been put into making her. If you ask Cortana, on the PC, she will answer as ‘We’ and if we check the answers on the phone she will address herself as I.

There is, of course, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning but there are certain things which cannot be driven through AI. And developing a personality falls under that umbrella. Cortana, along with being helpful, is funny as well. However, there is a fine line between being funny and being arrogant. The caretakers and the makers of Cortana were shrewd and had to take care of the same.

Jonathan Foster, while talking to ET talked about how Cortana cannot be funny at the expense of others. The developers have taken care of Cortana being very respectful and does not crack a joke by shaming someone.

“We wanted to make Cortana funny. We wanted Cortana to have an opinion or tell a joke. But we didn’t want her to make someone the butt of its joke. We don’t shame people. Cortana had to be positive with an inclusive perspective, acknowledge certain reality, contain/restrict any biases that people would talk about,” Foster told ET.

-Unmesh Phule


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