Huawei’s upcoming AI assistant is a Black Mirror episode in real life

By | 22nd April 2018

  • Huawei is looking to provide emotional interactions through its AI assistant.
  • The company’s team is inspired by the movie Her and envisions that soon enough, we won’t even need to touch our smartphones to use them.
  • While Huawei’s vision sounds ambitious and exciting, its plans to essentially replace human interactions sound slightly worrisome.

Huawei is reportedly preparing to launch an AI assistant with high emotional intelligence so that you can “get rid of your girlfriend.”

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In 2017, we saw a sudden explosion of smart speakers and AI assistants, and the trend has continued into 2018. While Google Assistant and Siri remain the dominant players in the world of smartphones, it seems as though each manufacturer has its own idea of what an AI assistant should look like. Samsung has Bixby, LG has ThinQ, and Amazon’s Alexa can be found inside a few Android devices now. Well, Huawei is no exception, and according to the latest report, the Chinese electronics giant has big plans for its AI assistant.

Huawei already offers a voice assistant for the Chinese market, but in a recent interview, the company’s vice president of software engineering, Felix Zhang, revealed some ambitious and frightening plans for what’s next: “We want to provide emotional interactions. We think that, in the future, all our end users wish they can interact with the system in the emotional mode. This is the direction we see in the long run.”

Zhang clarified that the sci-fi film Her is an inspiration to him and fellow Huawei executives: “Samantha (the AI voice assistant in the film) is a dream for all the engineers. Like in the movie, you can even get rid of your girlfriend. This is quite emotional service providing.” He predicts that in the near future, users won’t even need to touch their devices to use them – most of the functions will be accessible simply by voice command.

It’s unlikely that Huawei will be able to showcase an AI assistant that is capable of providing significant emotional interactions anytime soon. After all, to do so, it will need a high emotional quotient in addition to a high intelligence quotient; the latter alone is proving to be a difficult challenge to overcome for many companies. That said, I cannot help but be reminded of the show Black Mirror – Huawei’s vision purports to get rid of human loneliness, but in my view, it may become the cause of it.