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What does it take to build the best virtual assistant ever?

Google wants to build the best virtual assistant ever -- the problem is, building a virtual assistance isn't simply a matter of understanding voice commands.

People want to be able to converse with their virtual assistant. Just look at the difference in the way we've been trying to talk to Siri. Without giving it much thought at all, we find ourselves saying "Hi Siri, what's the time in Sydney?"

At the moment Google Assistant still has its shortcomings where it would miss or struggle to understand certain contexts, and in some cases just simply unable to interpret the request.

To do this Google has a plan called "The Transition", but in order for the plan to work, Google needs our help. It needs to convince as many people as possible to use Google Assistant so they can obtain enough data figure out what's working, what's not working -- and if its not working, why its not working. On the other hand, people are also less likely to use the product if its not working for them...

The Transition will have a similar purpose: gathering many millions (if not billions) of requests to the Google Assistant in different scenarios — on the move with a phone; in the house with Google Home — so that the company can train its deep learning neural nets to profoundly understand how to make a bot that knows what you’re asking for, and that can converse with you until your request is satisfied. Google needs this despite 18 years of collecting data from search fields. For one thing, people don’t interact with search in a conversational way. “People have such strong expectations in search,” says Scott Huffman, a Google VP. “Like, Oh, here’s this box. I’m supposed to put in 2.5 words and I’m going to get back public information."

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