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"HA. HA. HA."

Just like all the cool kids, Soylent now has its own pointless AI assistant

Reuters/China Stringer Network
Not exactly HAL.
By Chase Purdy
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

It’s an insult to people named Trish everywhere.

Even in its success among Silicon Valley nerds, Soylent, the Los Angeles-based meal-replacement drink company, has become something of a parody. In staying true to form the company has invented Trish, its new AI-powered personal assistant. It’s mostly useless, but it may answer some of the queries you may have about Soylent products.

No need to buckle your seatbelt, though, the questions you can ask are pretty basic. And the answers are mostly arthritic.

According to the gospel of Soylent, maximum nutrition should be delivered with “minimal effort.” And while that might be a noble ambition among some crowds, it’s also led to a fair number of embarrassing headlines, including that time Soylent bars gave people explosive diarrhea. Still, Soylent—named after the processed food in the sci-fi film Soylent Green that turns out to be made from humans—persists.

The new bot—created by the marketing firm Wieden+Kennedy—won’t just be appearing on Soylent’s website, according to SocialTech. It will also appear on broadcast and social media. Soylent’s chief marketing officer, Adam Grablick, told AdAge that Trish is part of an effort to bring the brand to life.

There’s an AI bot frenzy happening in companies, especially at the tech firms where Soylent found many of its earliest and most evangelical users. Facebook’s Messenger app has a bunch of them and its founder built his own, which he named Jarvis. US telecom AT&T has a new AI-powered bot named Atticus. Coca-Cola wants an AI bot to create its ads, one has been built to beat humans at Texas Hold ‘Em poker, and there’s even one out there watching and interpreting porn. Quartz even has one, which we taught to play old-school Atari games.

Still, Trish isn’t all that interesting (you can only ask it so many questions), and only time will tell if it becomes useful over time. In the meantime, maybe buy any real-life friends named Trish a stiffer drink than Soylent.

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