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Project Astra is the future of AI at Google

Astra is meant to be a real-time, multimodal AI assistant. | Image: Google

“I’ve had this vision in my mind for quite a while,” says Demis Hassabis, the head of Google DeepMind and the leader of Google’s AI efforts. Hassabis has been thinking about and working on AI for decades, but four or five years ago, something really crystallized. One day soon, he realized, “we would have this universal assistant. It’s multimodal, it’s with you all the time.” Call it the Star Trek Communicator; call it the voice from Her; call it whatever you want. “It’s that helper,” Hassabis continues, “that’s just useful. You get used to it being there whenever you need it.”

At Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference, Hassabis showed off a very early version of what he hopes will become that universal assistant. Google…

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