Soylent: Phase Two

The Lempert Report
May 02, 2017

Who do you like better? Trish or Ms. Dewey?

We’ve talked a lot about Rob Rhinehart and his Soylent meal replacement beverage. Rhinehart’s now infamous quote that the “Food system is too complex, too expensive and too fragile. Farms are ineffective due to climate and labor conditions” has become the mantra for Silicon Valley food startups. 

Now we talk about Trish. Soylent’s new spokesperson who is trying to push Rheinhart to the side and even took the stage at the most recent SxSW. 

I don’t think he has much to worry about. Trish is an Artificial Intelligence spokesperson that doesn’t seem all that smart. Trish looks a bit like a speaker with two crystal eyes that bounce up and down and side to side annoyingly. Trish actually turns to face the location of your mouse – and that's about it. There are 4 questions that you can click on and the answer then pops up on the screen. It would have taken very little to have Trish actually say the answer or even be able to respond in similar fashion as Alexa or OK Google. 

This from the company that supposedly has all these high tech geniuses? 

Their ad agency Widen & Kennedy dreamed up the idea and created Trish and is expected to use this dumb AI in advertising. I’m just amazed that with all the hoopla that Trish is getting that we have set the bar so low in what we get excited about – or even find useful. 

Back in 2006 – over ten years ago – Microsoft tested Ms. Dewey, an interactive search assistant with a fabulous personality and answered search requests in her voice that was fun, and way ahead of its time. Time that Trish found a mentor.