Google wants you to be dependent on its Assistant

Commentary: In an ad campaign featuring Sia, John Legend, his wife Chrissy Teigen and NBA star Kevin Durant, Google hypes its key feature.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Humans, stupefied, need Google's Assistant to make them whole.

Google/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

What kind of world does Google want to create?

One in which talking to machines is as natural -- or even more natural -- than talking to, well, humans.

During the Oscars, the company ran a slightly chilling ad in which a dad reminded his teenage son to treat girls with respect -- via his Nest Hello video doorbell.

It also launched a new campaign telling you that the most natural thing in the world is talking to your Google Assistant and getting her to be your factotum. 

First, we have John Legend and his supermodel wife Chrissy Teigen trying to do a search for a TV show by navigating though their remote.

Oh, remotes are so last century when you can just say "OK Google" and it'll all be done for you.

Not only can your Assistant perform these onerous tasks for you, she can also write lists down.

Here's NBA star Kevin Durant lifting weights and thinking about his shopping list. As you do when you're lifting weights. 

"I've got to write some of this stuff down," he says to himself. You see, in the modern world, you either talk to yourself or to machines. 

And then there's this quaint writing thing. You don't need to do that, now that your Assistant can memorize your every word.

Durant isn't alone in constantly thinking about all the things he has to buy. 

Here's singer Sia, looking in the mirror (sort of) as she's being dressed -- by her assistants -- and thinking about vegan items.

Then she has a blazing idea. She should buy her assistant flowers. But she can't ask her assistants, so she should ask her Assistant.

This is all very persuasive. 

Sundar Pichai's company is setting its whole strategy upon persuading people that its AI is the best -- with Amazon as its primary competitor.

It makes complete sense, therefore, that it's advertising something that its products deliver well.

I can't help thinking, though, that at least some of the scenarios presented here are a touch unrealistic.

Just like Sia, stars have assistants -- quaint human ones -- who pander to their every whim. You don't really expect Durant to do his own shopping, do you?

And I just went through some of Chrissy Teigen's recent tweets. Why, she sent them from the Twitter for iPhone app. Of course, she could have Google's Assistant on her iPhone. 

But maybe the mischievous Siri sent them for her. Just to make a point, you understand.


Twitter for iPhone, huh?

Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Technically Incorrect: Bringing you a fresh and irreverent take on tech.

Special Reports: CNET's in-depth features in one place.