Human of Beautiful Business: Dennis Mortensen, Founder and CEO of x.ai

Intelligent agents and his ‘sassy’ AI Personal Assistants

Amy and Andrew Ingram — the personal assistants whose task is simple: rearrange meetings. Get in touch with Dennis and his team at x.ai, and most likely you will be contacted by one of the two, who will work with you to arrange (and rearrange) a meeting time.

The catch — they are both algorithms.

This is the latest project for Dennis, a pioneer, serial entrepreneur and expert in leveraging data — who will be speaking at The House of Beautiful Business.

The idea came to him after reviewing an old diary and realising he had 1,019 meeting in 2012 and had rescheduled 672 times. The thought: why not automate this?

So how does it work? As Dennis explained to Nasdaq, “They exist on email, so I’ll just ask Amy, hey, set something up between you and [interviewer] come first week of February at my office. She then removes me from the conversation and has these very humanlike chats with you back-and-forth trying to figure out that on February 10, 25 Broadway for half an hour at my office we’ll chat.”

Sounds simple. But apparently, getting a computer to arrange your diary is harder than it sounds. As Dennis says in this Business Insider article: “We’re about 90 people who’ve been working on it for 3 years. That might come as a surprise but it’s one of those things where, similar to a self-driving car, it’s very easy to imagine but it’s very hard to execute on. We’ve just invested the time and effort into it.”

The assistants may be automated but they are far from robotic in personality. Great care has been taken in crafting the assistant’s personas. Amy has even been described as “having a bit of sass” — although they do appreciate a direct tone from the humans they interact with. Apparently the kinder and more roundabout you are in declining an invite - ‘saying no without saying no’ — the harder it can be for Amy and Andrew to understand. Maybe AI can teach us to clarify our intentions?

Learn more at the House of Beautiful Business in Lisbon, November 3–10th, 2017, where Dennis will join us to discuss intelligent agents and the future of work.

Hosted in collaboration with the BCG Henderson Institute, the House will serve as salon, stage, and sandbox for people who are keen on rehumanizing business and exploring meaningful conversations around humanity and technology. You can find more information and buy tickets at: houseofbeautiful.biz