Apple gave Siri AI personal assistant its edge

“Now even your phone talks back,” Geoffrey A. Fowler reports for The Wall Street Journal. “Matt Legend Gemmell, a software designer from Edinburgh, got a new Apple Inc. iPhone on Friday and asked it: ‘Who’s your daddy?’ ‘You are,’ the phone answered.”

“The real science of artificial intelligence is finally catching up to science fiction. HAL 9000, the creepy sentient computer from the movie ‘2001: A Space Odyssey,’ has been incarnated, in the form of Siri, a virtual personal assistant that comes with Apple’s new iPhone 4S, which arrived in stores Friday,” Fowler reports. “The phone takes verbal commands and questions, and responds with computer-generated speech. Real humans are responding to this alarming breakthrough by asking their iPhones ridiculous questions. The good news is, Siri has a sense of humor.”

Fowler reports, “Nicky Kelly, a 40-year-old from Suffolk, U.K., asked her iPhone: ‘Tell me a joke.’ It answered: ‘Two iPhones walk into a bar…I forget the rest.’ … A lot of work went into so much artificial sarcasm. The creators of Siri put ‘deep thought’ into the personality of their software, says Norman Winarsky, a co-founder of the company that was bought by Apple for $200 million in 2010. Siri was born out of an artificial intelligence project at SRI International, a research institute.”

Fowler reports, “The result, before the software was bought by Apple, was ‘occasionally a light attitude,’ he said. When Apple began integrating Siri into the iPhone, the team focused on keeping its personality friendly and humble — but also with an edge, according to a person who worked at Apple on the project.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Overheard in a Best Buy yesterday, one shopper to another: “If you don’t have Siri, your phone is crap.”

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WSJ’s Walt Mossberg reviews Apple iPhone 4S: Siri artificial-intelligence has to be tried to be believed – October 12, 2011 hands-on with Apple iPhone 4S: Siri is amazing! (with video) – October 11, 2011


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