Picture this: You are sitting on your couch flipping through a magazine and suddenly you are overcome with hunger — granted you had a sandwich 30 minutes ago — but that’s beside the point. Your Google Home is strategically placed within earshot and you say, “Google, I’m hungry.” But instead of the normal robotic voice, you hear the voice of 10-time Grammy award-winning artist John Legend, and like a sweet serenade, he responds: “There are five restaurants within walking distance.”
This will soon be your reality, as Google announced in May that the “All of Me” singer will be among six new voices coming to Google Assistant. Which got us thinking, what is some of our favorite voice-powered technology through the years?
J.A.R.V.I.S — Iron Man (movie)
Named after Tony Stark’s (aka Iron Man) childhood butler, J.A.R.V.I.S was created as an artificial intelligence system that controls his mansion. Playfully standing for Just a Rather Very Intelligent System, J.A.R.V.I.S oversees business management for Stark Industries, as well as being security for Stark’s mansion and Stark Tower. The voice of J.A.R.V.I.S. is Paul Bettany, who combines a snarky, sarcastic tone with the class of a British accent, making J.A.R.V.I.S the perfect artificial intelligence companion.
Samantha — Her (movie)
In 2013 the world was introduced to Samantha, an operating system that seemed a bit too real, in the film Her. Voiced by Scarlett Johansson, Samantha brought companionship and eventually love to the movie’s main character, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix). She is more real than we would like to admit, but honestly, it’s hard not to fall for her. Samantha is relatable, always there to talk to you, and knows you more than you know yourself. What’s not to love?
Sandra — Sandra (podcast)
Released just last month, Sandra is a drama podcast that takes a deep dive into the world of artificial voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant. The twist is that what is actually behind the voice of Sandra — coined “the world’s most intuitive personal assistant” — is a living, breathing human, answering your questions in real time. Sandra is voiced by the hilarious Kristen Wiig, who mixes in a little bit of monotone robot. What transpires is a comical look at what’s behind our virtual assistants and how much we trust and respect their opinions.
KITT – Knight Rider (TV show)
We would never forget the beloved KITT from Knight Rider. Short for Knight Industries Two Thousand, KITT was the 1982 Pontiac Trans Am of our dreams and voiced by the wisest man we know, William Daniels. Partnered with David Hasselhoff, the unlikely duo saved the day countless times from ruthless criminals. Daniels’ calm and methodical demeanor, juxtaposed with Hasselhoff’s irrational and dangerous tendencies, made them the perfect duo.
Wheatley – Portal 2 (video game)
Voiced by the British comedian Stephan Merchant, Wheatley is a fictional A.I. from the video game Portal 2. His witty, semi-dramatic banter provides some much-needed comic relief while helping you make your way through the game. Merchant’s character is the perfect blend of scaredy cat and all-knowing computer, keeping you entertained for hours.
Jarvis — Facebook (social)
We guess this world is big enough for two Jarvises. In 2016, Mark Zuckerberg’s built-from-scratch home artificial intelligence system, dubbed “Jarvis,” was released. It was designed to do basic tasks like play music or dim the lights. The best part of Jarvis is not what it can do, but what it sounds like. Morgan Freeman has played everyone from Nelson Mandela to God, and now he can add artificial intelligence to the list. The soothing sound of Freeman’s voice might make Jarvis one of the best-voiced pieces of tech of all time.
HAL 9000 — 2001: A Space Odyssey (Movie)
HAL 9000 is the “foolproof and incapable of error” computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey. He was beloved and trusted by the pilots and scientists aboard the spacecraft Discovery One. But in typical A.I. fashion, HAL would soon become their nightmare. Voiced by Douglas Rain, HAL solidified our fears of what could happen when a computer has full control and the dangers of putting all of your trust into a machine.
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