People Thank Machines in ~11% of all meetings

People love Amy! They love her ability to schedule meetings so much that they choose to share their feelings with the world: /lovenotes
That is obviously wonderful and something we are very proud of, but what absolutely fascinates me is how they interact directly with Amy and the fact that we had to engineer and model an intent called Gratitude in our system (Assigning an Intent, or purpose if you will, is one way for Amy to understand what you are asking her to do and enable her to have a human-like conversation.) I am not talking about the kindness we see embedded throughout the scheduling process, such as:

  • Amy, would you be so kind and set up a meeting with Alexandra early next week.
  • Amy, I am so sorry, but I have to cancel the meeting tomorrow, can we move to next week?

We humanized Amy to the extent that general civility, as displayed above, happens naturally. When I say “People Thank Machines” I am talking about emails from hosts and guests where the sole intent is “Gratitude.” The person wants no action taken, outside of simply giving Amy a virtual pat on the back! Pause for moment and think that through. Why does that exist? The hosts most certainly know this is a verticalized AI and the guests also aware (unless they believe Amy is Human of course, which happens). We are thrilled to see it and we are actively thinking about how to use this for good.
If emotions are defined in terms of their effect on behavior or on how they function inside an organism, then emotions can be viewed as a mechanism that an intelligent agent uses to maximize the utility of its actions. Given this definition of emotion, Hans Moravec believes that “robots in general will be quite emotional about being nice people.” Empathy is a necessary component of good human computer interaction. He says robots “will try to please you in an apparently selfless manner because it will get a thrill out of this positive reinforcement. You can interpret this as a kind of love.” [1]
Wouldn’t you rather give a bit of meeting scheduling leeway to the kindest people in your network?
I took at look at the network and the large amount of meetings we scheduled between September 1st and September 4th 2015 and found that ~11% of all meetings have an email with a gratitude intent attached to it. When I requested a small dump of the actual annotated data (words) you really see the best in Humans – even when we deal with machines.

  • You are doing awesome!”
  • Thanks Amy, you’re a real sweetheart”
  • Amazing. Thank you Amy”
  • That is Perfect. THANK YOU so much and I do apologize for the change of schedule”
  • Appreciate your help Amy”
  • Perfect. I received the invite and confirmed! Thanks for all your help!”
  • That’s perfect, Amy. Thank you! And nice to meet you via email”
  • Amy, thank you for everything, as always”

I honestly thought our system would be void of gratitude when we started thinking about in late 2013, but I am ecstatic that it exists and will continue to fight for it!
Cheers 🙂
[1] Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence