... a new phase in an 8-month-old, crowd-sourced, artificial-intelligence project conducted with the MIT Media Lab and IT consulting company Nihon Unisys.
Finding Gifts with Sasha helps users choose gifts through conversations with the boy character. "At first, his gift suggestions may not be perfect," Dentsu admits, "but the system learns from the user's feedback in the same way that children do in the course of their development."
Links to ecommerce sites are provided for the suggested gifts.
Before making its gift recommendations the digital prodigy analyzes the profiles and comments posted on social media sites both by the user and the intended gift recipient.
Sasha also has the help of 200,000 pieces of "common sense" observations assimilated into a database during earlier phases of the project. The first, Play a Quiz Game with Nadya, used a girl character to gather logical suggestions from participating players.
The second, Poi Bot, used a personalized robot character to automatically generate Tweets, imitating each user's distinctive communication style and way of thinking.
According to Dentsu, Sasha works deductively rather than literally: Based on a 'common sense' statement such as "cats like warm places," someone seeking a gift for a cat-lover won't be directed to an actual cat, but to things that would make a cat feel warm.
The ultimate aim of the project, Dentsu says, is to "leverage the shared common background knowledge and senses -- used by humans when we converse with others -- to create a computer system that can understand implicit meanings and nuances of language in the same way as humans."
Dentsu is a sponsor of the MIT Media Lab's Things That Think consortium.