Innovation Hub: Meet Amy, Your AI Assistant

Amy Ingram is the most well-liked personal assistant in New York City. She was created by Dennis Mortensen to do a real job: schedule business meetings. And, given the fact that she’s artificially intelligent, she’s very good at it.

But Mortensen, CEO and founder of, envisions more. His AI trainers are researching ways to get Amy to understand the social dynamics built into meetings. Ideally, they’d like her to understand that some meetings are more important than others.

I spoke to Mortensen about the potential of AI.

[This interview has been edited and condensed. For the full interview, go to]

Kara Miller: What does Amy do for you, and how is this different from anything that’s existed before?

Dennis Mortensen: Amy is this AI instance that can act as your own personal assistant. But she can only set up your meetings. We’ve set up this very specific AI, and you can e-mail Amy and ask her to set up a meeting between you and colleagues. Amy will work on that for half an hour or for multiple days. Upon conclusion, Amy will send out an invite to all parties.

KM: Does Amy learn over time what your preferences are?

DM: That’s a great question. It’s extremely hard to implement that in real life. The quick answer is that she does learn. Whenever I want to wake Amy up, I simply e-mail her and she starts to work on the task. Then to apply your settings or preferences, you simply e-mail her and tell her. I want that to be her preference setting, because that’s exactly how you would do it had you hired that personal assistant.

KM: Tell me one or two ways in which you want to do better—because Amy is not a perfect personal assistant quite yet.

DM: I would like Amy to have a really good solid understanding of the set of social dynamics that are built into the meeting. But Amy can only do that if she has some understanding of who’s here, who did we set up meetings with, who’s this new guy. That is something that we are working on right now.

KM: Are there applications beyond just an AI assistant setting up meetings for you? Are there things that you think AI assistants are going to do for society that may actually give back in an interesting way?

DM: We’ve tried to be true to this idea of AI doing a real job. Not assisting you in doing the job faster or more accurately, but actually doing the job. I think you’ll see a whole host of companies being brought to life over the next half a decade to figure out where there’s a set of jobs that can be taken over in full.

Tricia Breton contributed to this write-up.

Kara Miller is the host of “Innovation Hub,” a national radio program that features the thinkers, researchers, and visionaries who are crafting the future. She is based at WGBH Radio in Boston. Follow @IHubRadio

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