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Friday, December 14, 2018

Mastering Conversations

In the Google Blog, some useful thoughts on conversations.  We need to think about how we talk to machines, and with people.   

How the Google Assistant masters conversations—and you can, too, this holiday season

Heading home for the holidays? Here’s hoping it’ll be a joyous reunion with friends and family, with plenty of cookies to go around. But if you’ve already been dreading those questions from your great-aunt about your love life, here’s how we can all take a page out of Assistant’s design playbook to help with our communication skills.

I’m on the Assistant’s conversational design team, where we work to make your chats with the Google Assistant as pleasant as possible. I’ve been teaching computers how to talk for nearly 20 years, starting my career working on some of those automated phone systems you’ve probably dealt with when you lost a suitcase at the airport. (In my case on a recent trip to Norway, it took 10 of those phone calls to find that lost bag!)

In my years in the industry, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to make conversations work. And so has the Google Assistant.

Give just the right amount of information.

We’ve all had that one relative who keeps droning on about a boring topic at the dinner table, oblivious to the fact that half the room has dozed off. And sometimes we experience the opposite problem, where we ask someone a question and they don’t provide enough information. Like when I ask my son what time it is, and he responds, “Yes.”  ... " 

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