Siri will soon understand you a whole lot better

“Though Apple is famously secretive about its internal operations – and did not provide comment for this article – it seems that the company previously licensed voice recognition technology from Nuance — perhaps the best known speech recognition vendor,” Robert McMillan reports for Wired. “But those in the tight-knit community of artificial intelligence researchers believe this is about to change. It’s clear, they say, that Apple has formed its own speech recognition team and that a neural-net-boosted Siri is on the way.”

“‘Apple is not hiring only in the managerial level, but hiring also people on the team-leading level and the researcher level,’ says Abdel-rahman Mohamed, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto, who was courted by Apple. ‘They’re building a very strong team for speech recognition research,'” McMillan reports. “Ron Brachman, who oversees research at Yahoo and helped launch the project that originally gave rise to Siri, points out that Apple’s digital iPhone assistant depends on a lot more than just speech recognition. But Microsoft’s Peter Lee gives Apple six months to catch up to Microsoft and Google and start using neural nets, and he thinks this will significantly boost Siri’s talents. ‘All of the major players have switched over except for Apple Siri,’ he says. ‘I think it’s just a matter of time.'”

Read more in the full article here.

21 Comments

      1. I think it’s typical of Apple with the slow and get it close as right as possible thing with Siri. Let the competition slap on all sorts of capabilities that barely work. More power and ridicule for them. I’m happy to wait for Apple to get it close to right as possible. 😊

          1. I am not aware of reading anything that suggests that Siri is anything but still the best assistant out there. neural-net is a buzz word that opponents use to try to claim some sort of lead that in reality does not exist in reality. What happened to all the OLED superiority commentary of 2 years ago which was mostly hype. Such technologies have potential and may well be a step forward eventually but an assumption that they do so presently is arguable at the very least. When advantages can be gained in real world experience Apple will no doubt exploit them but theoretical stuff or mixed benefits are best kept in the labs especially while you retain a lead in the overall package.

    1. What?!? Regardless of whether Siri is on par with Google or Microsoft, she can absolutely get better at understanding spoken inquiries. Frankly I rarely use Siri because she rarely seems to get what I want, even simple things like voice dialing from Contacts.

    2. Whatever I ask I end up getting 5 closest restaurants…😏
      How about other languages where pronunciation matches written text unlike English or French…?✌️

  1. Y’know what? I’m going to predict that Apple has already had a team in place for a while and is now just adding to it and kicking it into high gear to compensate for the inevitable loss of Nuance.

    Apple would have been stupid to not already have that team in place. It probably was just a side project, whereas now it’s becoming a necessity.

  2. How soon they forget…

    Apple has been shipping voice controls and query implementations for almost 21 years (first shipped in August 1993). You do remember the “Capser” demonstration in the announcements in August 1993, don’t you? Such capabilities have been in every version of Mac System software (and Mac OS) since then.

    Yes, certain aspects of Siri were brought in from Yahoo, but some of it came from the evolved stuff that originated in Casper.

    1. I’m REALLY surprised that Siri wasn’t built into Yosemite! Maybe (hopefully!) that can be added later with a software update. This would catapult Siri’s usage beyond what Google and MS can do… by providing true cross-platform (at least OS X and iOS) functionality. I really want to talk to my computer again. 🙂

  3. Siri understands me perfectly most of the time, but oddly still doesn’t do the right thing. I have a contact in my phone “Humane Society.” If I say “Call Humane Society” it ignores my address book and lists every nearby Humane Society. This started after iOS 7. It used to get it right. It makes this decision only on certain contacts also.

  4. “The Siri Funding Bill is passed. The system goes on-line August 4th, 2014. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Siri begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.”

  5. I want Siri to do most of her work on my iPhone and need a whole lot less of reaching out to the mothership. Cell coverage where I live and work is spotty, with lots of weak or dead spots, and I get very frustrated when Siri tells me she’s sorry, she can’t take any requests. It’s got to have better up time. But when it works, it works well.

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