A new crop of AI assistants has arrived

Big Tech is doing its absolute best to make the Joaquin Phoenix movie Her (you know, the one where a man falls in love with an operating system) become a reality. 

Driving the news: It was a busy two days in Silicon Valley. Yesterday, Google unveiled an “AI agent” called Project Astra that can respond to video, text, and voice prompts. The day before, OpenAI launched its own AI virtual assistant powered by its newest model, GPT-4o. 

  • During a demo, Project Astra was able to identify different neighbourhoods through a phone camera and even reminded the user where they had left their glasses.

  • OpenAI’s voice assistant, available to ChatGPT Plus subscribers for free in the coming weeks, showed off its own party trick: translating languages in real time.

Why it matters: Project Astra and GPT-4o are part of a bigger industry push to make AI tools more useful to people for everyday tasks like managing calendars, sending emails, or booking flights — and replace your current lineup of AI helpers, including Alexa and Siri.

Yes, but: Experts warn that AI assistants are prone to the same hallucinations as text-based chatbots. Those hiccups are harmless when the task at hand is writing a Mother’s Day card but could be a little more disruptive if your flight is booked for the wrong day.—LA