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Google Assistant has advice for Father’s Day…from real dads

The AI-powered Google Assistant has some advice for human dads. Say “Advice from dads” and the intelligent assistant will play advice to future fathers from real dads. Sometimes the advice is practical, like keep absorbent material in every room in your house, but a lot of advice is about relationships, like make sure you spend one-on-one quality time with each of your kids.

“Look at your children not just as an extension of yourself but as an unformulated possibility and allow them to develop into what they can be,” said Isaiah, father of four.

Drew, father of two said “It’s kind of like a flavor of friendship and a level of connection with somebody that you didn’t realize was possible. You’re so emotionally bound up in everything they do, that you almost lose yourself in their world. It helps you see the world from a totally different perspective.”

Each of the dozen or so snippets of advice are roughly 10-15 seconds long. Say “Stories about fatherhood” and Google Assistant will share stories that are one to two minutes long from StoryCorps.

Both StoryCorps and advice from dads bring storytelling to the Google Assistant experience that is the antithesis of a heartless intelligent assistant powered by AI, what the StoryCorps app calls a mission to “create an archive of the wisdom of humanity.”

Began in 2003 with a single listening station in Grand Central Station in New York City. Two years later, listening booths began to travel across the United States. Today the initiative to collect stories of shared humanity has permanent listing booths in San Francisco, Atlanta, and Chicago, and has published books about moms, love, the purpose of work, and other topics.

The StoryCorps archive of more than 65,000 interviews — some recorded with the StoryCorps app, some in listening booths — are housed by the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

For Father’s Day, StoryCorps gets into the stories of families like the Starkloffs, who had to fight to adopt their daughter, and the Mortillaros, a father-son locksmith business started by the father, who dropped out of school in eighth grade and said being raised by immigrant parents meant working seven days a week and still being called lazy.

In a conversation between Phil and Phil Jr., the son says “You raised all of us man, five kids and every single one of them did not ever want for anything man. That’s hard to do for someone who went up to the eighth grade.”

To which the dad says “You know, you do your best kid that’s what you do, but honestly your best, not the B.S. best, and even if you fail, it doesn’t feel that bad.”

Google Assistant has shared StoryCorps clips on half a dozen occasions this year, ranging from from Women’s Day to Valentine’s Day to Mother’s Day and Black History Month.

Say “Tell me Pride stories” and Google Assistant will also share the experiences of gay, lesbian, or transgender people, perhaps the result of a 2014 StoryCorps initiative began to gather LGBTQ stories.

Storytelling like the kind on-display for Father’s Day was likely devised by the Google Assistant personality team, who work to give the intelligent assistant more humanlike attributes associated with Google, team lead and chief Google doodler Ryan Germick told VentureBeat in an interview earlier this year. They also write the jokes Google Assistant tells and helped make it a gameshow host.

Google Assistant has changed a lot in recent months. The assistant is now able to do a range of things it wasn’t able to do at launch last fall, ranging from the creation of a calendar event to sharing reminders, or the ability to recognize up to six unique voices in a household.

Last month at I/O, Google’s annual developer conference, a Google Assistant app for iPhone users launched, and voice apps were extended to both Android and iOS smartphone users.

Hot on the heels of Google Assistant and Alexa-enabled devices from Amazon is a series of serious competitors.

Apple’s HomePod, set to retail for $349, is due out by the end of 2017. Expected to be the first smart speaker with Microsoft’s Cortana inside, the Harman Kardon Invoke is scheduled to hit Microsoft store shelves this fall.

In Japan, Line debuted its line of intelligent assistant-enabled devices this week at Line Conference. The cute bear and duck smart speakers with Clova are also due out soon, while Samsung’s Bixby, who is expected to hit Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphones later this month in the United States after some delay.

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Ms. A. C. Kennedy
My name is Ms A C Kennedy and I am a Health practitioner and Consultant by day and a serial blogger by night. I luv family, life and learning new things. I especially luv learning how to improve my business. I also luv helping and sharing my information with others. Don't forget to ask me anything!

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What we’re watching: ‘Raw’ and ‘Feast of Fiction’

Welcome back to Video IRL, where several of our editors talk about what they've been watching in their spare time. This month we're kicking things off with some seasonally-appropriate horror fare, that you can catch right away on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Then it's time for a Gundam throwback before Kris Naudus points out a couple of YouTube food channels perfect for binge eating or binge watching.

Them / Raw

Timothy J. Seppala

Timothy J. Seppala
Associate Editor

To get into the Halloween spirit, I've been watching at least one horror movie a day since the end of September -- the lower the budget, the better. Problem is, so many of the American low-budget or indie horror offerings on Amazon and Netflix are crappy Paranormal Activity clones, cheap-thrill gore-fests or uninspired found-footage "documentaries." Whether it's by design or coincidence, I've found that French horror movies have held my attention the most lately. Specifically, 2016's Raw, as well as Them, from ten years prior. They're more psychological thrillers than straight-up horror, but that didn't stop me from being more on edge while watching them one afternoon than I was during A Haunting in Saginaw, Michigan, late at night. Both start with a car crash, but they couldn't finish any more differently.

Raw, recently added to Netflix, tells the tale of a vegetarian girl in her first week at a prestigious veterinary school. During a hazing ritual, she's forced to eat a raw rabbit kidney. She immediately gets sick, throws up and wakes herself up that night scratching a full-body rash to near bleeding. This bout with food poisoning is just the beginning, though, and soon protagonist Justine finds out she has a taste for forbidden fruit. As the remaining 70-ish minutes unfolded, I lost track of how many times I clasped my hands over my mouth, agape in shock, to stifle my shouts of "OHMYGODWHATTHEFUCKISEVENHAPPENING?!"

But French director Julia Ducournau balances every body-horror scene either with something pedestrian twisted into being unsettling (like a horse on a treadmill) or with something that makes you ask how far Justine can go before someone confronts her about her new diet. And those questions keep coming right until the credits roll. I can't say I enjoyed watching Raw, but it was a hell of a ride.

The same goes for Them, currently streaming on Amazon Prime. Its focus is narrow, centering on a young couple living in a cavernous farmhouse, terrorized over the course of a night by unseen horrors. The camera never quite gives away who (or what) the perpetrators are, and revealing the twist would be a sin. As with Raw, its atmosphere and overall creepiness won me over straightaway. The scariest part? Realizing that I've probably driven past a shot like the final scene countless times and not thought twice about it. If you're willing to read subtitles, both of these should make you shiver and scream more than The Conjuring 2 on HBO Go could ever hope to.

Mobile Suit Gundam The 08th MS Team

David Lumb

David Lumb
Contributing Editor

I'd heard that a lot of anime had left Hulu, but I scanned their selection anyway looking for classic shows I'd missed, like the original Mobile Suit Gundam. They don't have that -- but they did have a series I didn't finish the first time it aired on Toonami, the 1996 classic Gundam side story The 08th MS Team. Unlike the franchise's other show released the year before, the massively successful Gundam Wing, 08th ditches the brand's typical pretty-boys-in-unbeatable-robots for a grounded and sobering story about the people who get caught up in wars -- desperate soldiers, civilians and guerrillas alike. It's dirty, honest, utterly humane and gorgeously animated.

It's also a little preachy and melodramatic, and it shows its age with odd sexist moments. While it's still the Thin Red Line of the Gundam universe, I remember it far more fondly from when my 14-year-old self grazed the series on its first American airing. There's something sad in seeing an old favorite for the flawed media it always was. Much like Waypoint's Rob Zacny, I've grown up and seen a lot since I first caught the show as a starry-eyed teen. I still think The 08th MS Team is a wonderful little 12-episode miniseries with a big heart, but I won't revere it so highly -- and will think a little harder about who I recommend it to.

Feast of Fiction / Binging with Babish

Kris Naudus

Kris Naudus
Senior Editor, Database

Back in March, I came home from a trip only to discover that my oven didn't work. The cooking gas in my building had been shut off due to a leak. My building management seemed to be on it, so I made do with a combination of microwavables, toaster oven and Seamless. Unfortunately, weeks and months went by, calls to the city were made and permits were issued, but, even as I write this in October, gas still has not been restored to my building. My landlords eventually threw their collective hands in the air and began installing electric ranges in every apartment, so a few weeks ago I was finally able to cook for myself again.

I am so jazzed to be able to make food. Hot food! Scrambled eggs! Steak! Cookies! I started reading food blogs and cookbooks, and shopping to refill my pantry. I'm halfway through Kenji Alt-Lopez's The Food Lab, a huge 900-page hardcover that talks about the science of how food cooks. On the lighter side, I've also been reading food-themed comics like Delicious in Dungeon and Food Wars. And the latter title (which is also an anime) ended up sucking me into a YouTube hole of food videos that I've been obsessed with ever since.

You see, the very first chapter of Food Wars features the "Gotcha" Pork Roast, a bacon-wrapped potato loaf that hero Soma Yukihira makes to save his family restaurant. It looks pretty tasty, so I searched for recipes and pics online and stumbled onto Jimmy Wong and Ashley Adams' Feast of Fiction, a series that demonstrates how to make various foods seen in cartoons, video games and comics. If you ever wanted to taste Steven Universe's beloved Cookie Cat ice cream sandwiches or Kirby's super-spicy curry, there's an episode for you. One thing I really enjoy is how they also incorporate crafts into it, showing how to make paper wrappers for your Reptar chocolate bars or genuine-looking Ecto Cooler Hi-C boxes.

I've been marathoning through the episodes, which the YouTube algorithms have definitely picked up on at this point, throwing food show after food show into my suggestions. One that caught my eye was Binging with Babish. Where Feast of Fiction mostly sticks to the realm of kids' cartoons, anime and video games, Binging with Babish is a little more mainstream, covering foods from popular media like Mad Men, Seinfeld and House of Cards. Still, there's a bit of overlap -- both Babish and Feast have done their own takes on the Ultimeatum from Regular Show and Krabby Patties from SpongeBob SquarePants. But the recipes are different, and I watch the shows for the personalities. Feast of Fiction is pretty silly (and there's a cute dog), while Binging with Babish is a little more subdued. Not that Babish can't be ridiculous as well -- the Moist Maker is one of the most ridiculously complicated sandwiches I have ever seen, basically asking you to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner.

Sadly, I still haven't done a lot of actual cooking since getting my stove back. I'm having too much fun watching other people do it instead, with the added bonus that I don't have to clean up the mess.

"IRL" is a recurring column in which the Engadget staff run down what they're buying, using, playing and streaming.