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artificial personality (AP)

An artificial personality is a collection of characteristics, tendencies, behavioral quirks and backstory related to some AI simulation of a human, such as a chatbot or a digital assistant. Another implementation of artificial personalities is in robotics. Personality allows a robot or a software system to interact with people emotionally as well as on a logical level.

Developers add personality to digital entities to make them more user-friendly, likable and relatable. A vendor might also use artificial personality to shape public perception of their brand. In that case, the personality might be designed to either foster a company’s current brand image or to promote a different image. A clothing brand perceived as stodgy, for example, might create a customer service bot with a slightly edgy personality to appeal to a younger demographic.

Personalities are especially significant for digital assistants, such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana because they are designed to take the place of a human virtual assistant. A digital assistant isn’t expected to pass the Turing test, however, emulating a human so closely that it could be mistaken for one.

An AI assistant designer actually has to beware of having the software seem too human, because people find it creepy when a created entity comes very close to replicating the system it’s designed to emulate but is just a little bit “off” in some way. (That effect is known as the uncanny valley.)

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