Apple Hires AI Team From Init.ai to Join Work on Siri

Apple this week "acqui-hired" the team from Init.ai, a startup that designed a smart assistant to allow customer service representatives to easily parse through and automate some interactions with users, reports TechCrunch.

The startup focused on creating an AI with natural language processing and machine learning to analyze chat-based conversations between humans.


Init.ai announced that it was shutting down its service earlier this week to join a new project.
Today is an exciting day for our team. Init.ai is joining a project that touches the lives of countless people across the world. We are thrilled and excited at the new opportunities this brings us.

However, this means Init.ai will discontinue its service effective December 16th 2017. While we wish to make this transition as smooth as possible, we cannot continue to operate Init.ai going forward.
Apple did not purchase Init.ai and will not obtain any intellectual property nor is there an indication that Apple plans to use any existing Init.ai services. Instead, Apple has taken on the Init.ai team, who will now work on Apple's Siri personal assistant.

The addition of the Init.ai team may hint at Apple's future Siri plans, with the company perhaps planning to build out more business integrations to supplement Business Chat, the iOS 11 iMessage feature that allows businesses to communicate with customers.

TechCrunch says it's not entirely clear how many people from Init.ai will be transitioning to Apple, but the startup only employed six people.


Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Updates Machine Learning Journal With Three Articles on Siri Technology

Back in July, Apple introduced the "Apple Machine Learning Journal," a blog detailing Apple's work on machine learning, AI, and other related topics. The blog is written entirely by Apple's engineers, and gives them a way to share their progress and interact with other researchers and engineers.

Apple today published three new articles to the Machine Learning Journal, covering topics that are based on papers Apple will share this week at Interspeech 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden.


The first article may be the most interesting to casual readers, as it explores the deep learning technology behind the Siri voice improvements introduced in iOS 11. The other two articles cover the technology behind the way dates, times, and other numbers are displayed, and the work that goes into introducing Siri in additional languages.

Links to all three articles are below:

Apple is notoriously secret and has kept its work under wraps for many years, but over the course of the last few months, the company has been open to sharing some of its machine learning advancements. The blog, along with research papers, allows Apple engineers to participate in the wider AI community and may help the company retain employees who do not want to keep their progress a secret.


Discuss this article in our forums

Apple AI Expert’s Full TED Talk Now Available on YouTube

Back in April, Apple product designer and Siri co-founder Tom Gruber gave a TED Talk, where he spoke about his vision of the future of computers and artificial intelligence.

The full 10-minute TED Talk was today published on YouTube, giving us a chance to hear his complete thoughts on the future of AI and Siri.


In his talk, Gruber says computers should be used to lessen human failings, like memory, and augment human capabilities. He believes computers should log all aspects of our lives, allowing us to remember the people we've met and details about them, like favorite sports, family members, and name pronunciation.

Gruber's talk also covers the importance of privacy and a range of useful applications for AI, like cancer detection and advanced personal assistants like Siri.


Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Developing ‘Apple Neural Engine’ Chip to Power AI in iOS Devices

Apple is developing a dedicated processor that will be used to handle AI-related tasks like facial and speech recognition in its products, reports Bloomberg. Citing a source with knowledge of Apple's plans, the site says the chip is known internally as the "Apple Neural Engine."

Apple plans to use the chip, which would work alongside the standard processor and the graphics chip, to add more advanced artificial intelligence capabilities into its devices and to offload demanding AI processing tasks that can impact battery life.
An AI-enabled processor would help Cupertino, California-based Apple integrate more advanced capabilities into devices, particularly cars that drive themselves and gadgets that run augmented reality, the technology that superimposes graphics and other information onto a person's view of the world.
The chip could potentially handle tasks like facial recognition in the photos application, parts of speech recognition, and power the predictive keyboard in the iPhone and iPad. Apple may also allow developers to access the chip to power AI-related features in third-party apps.

An AI chip would not be the first chip that handles dedicated tasks in the iPhone. Starting with the iPhone 5s in 2013, Apple devices have included a motion coprocessor used to collect and store sensor data. The motion coprocessor allows the iPhone and iPad to continually track movement and other sensor data without using significant battery. It also powers features like the always-on "Hey Siri" capability built into modern iPhones.

Apple has already tested prototypes of future iPhones with the AI chip, but it is unclear if such a chip is ready for a debut in the iPhone 8. Going forward, should development on the chip continue, Apple is said to be planning to integrate it into many of its devices.


Discuss this article in our forums

Apple AI Expert Says Computers Should Augment Human Failings

Apple product designer and Siri co-founder Tom Gruber gave a TED Talk today, where he covered his vision of the future of computers and artificial intelligence. Both Axios and Business Insider shared details on his talk.


According to Gruber, computers should be used to augment human failings, like memory. He believes computers should log every aspect of our lives, allowing us to remember every person we've met and every aspect about them, like favorite sports, family members, and name pronunciation.
"I believe AI will make personal memory enhancement a reality. I think it's inevitable," he said onstage, adding that he doesn't know when or how it will happen. [...]

Gruber imagines that this kind of technology will not only be useful for satisfying data geeks who want to optimize their health and happiness, but it could also assist those who suffer from diseases like dementia and schizophrenia. "It's the difference between a life of isolation and one of dignity and connection," he said.
Privacy, is of course, a key part of artificial intelligence and future computing capabilities. "We get to choose what is and is not recalled," said Gruber. "It's absolutely essential that this be kept very secure."

Apple has already taken the first steps towards linking artificial intelligence and memory, with its Photos app. Photos on Mac and iOS devices includes a "Memories" feature that intelligently organizes photos into dynamic events that can be relived through the app. It also incorporates facial recognition and deep levels of privacy - facial recognition features are not cross-device and do not sync over iCloud.

Gruber also highlighted other useful applications for artificial intelligence, like cancer detection and more advanced personal assistants like Siri.


Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Expanding Seattle Hub Working on AI and Machine Learning

Apple will expand its presence in downtown Seattle, where it has a growing team working on artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, according to GeekWire.

The report claims Apple will expand into additional floors in Two Union Square, and this will allow its Turi team to move into the building and provide space for future employees.
“We’re trying to find the best people who are excited about AI and machine learning — excited about research and thinking long term but also bringing those ideas into products that impact and delight our customers,” said computer scientist Carlos Guestrin, Apple director of machine learning. “The bar is high, but we’re going to be hiring as quickly as we can find people that meet our high bar, which is exciting.”
Apple's director of machine learning Carlos Guestrin, who founded Turi and is a University of Washington professor, said the Seattle team collaborates "extensively" with groups at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, including working on new AI features for upcoming Apple products and services.

Guestrin said AI, for example, will enable the iPhone to be more understanding and predictive in the future:
“But what’s going to make a major difference in the future, in addition to those things, for me to be emotionally connected to this device, is the intelligence that it has — how much it understands me, how much it can predict what I need and what I want, and how valuable it is at being a companion to me,” he said. “AI is going to be at the core of that, and we’re going to be some of the people who help with that, here in Seattle, but of course there will be tons of groups in Cupertino doing amazing things with that, too.”
Guestrin said Apple is doing long-term research in Seattle, looking ahead "three to 10 years," while also focusing on the near term by developing new features for upcoming Apple products.
"We work on the whole spectrum," he said. "It's not just about doing research, but it's about the technology transfer and how that gets embedded into experiences that customers love."
Today, the University of Washington will reportedly announce a new $1 million endowed professorship in AI and machine learning, which is said to have been made possible by Apple's acquisition of Turi last year. The endowment is named after Guestrin, and it will allow the university to attract more top talent in the field.

Last month, Apple became a member of the Partnership on AI, a non-profit organization established "to study and formulate best practices, to advance the public's understanding of AI, and to serve as an open platform for discussion and engagement about AI and its influences on people and society".

A recent report, which referenced Turi, said Apple is working on "enhanced" Siri capabilities for next-generation iPhones.


Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Formally Announced as ‘Partnership on AI’ Founding Member

Apple has formally joined the Partnership on AI as a founding member, confirming an earlier report, the organization announced today.
Apple has joined the Partnership on AI as a founding member. The company has been involved and collaborating with the Partnership since before it was first announced and is thrilled to formalize its membership alongside Amazon, Facebook, Google/DeepMind, IBM, and Microsoft.
Siri co-founder Tom Gruber, who heads advanced development of the assistant at Apple, will serve on the Partnership's inaugural Board of Trustees.

iOS-9-Siri
The Partnership on AI is a non-profit research consortium established in September to "study and formulate best practices, to advance the public's understanding of AI, and to serve as an open platform for discussion and engagement about AI and its influences on people and society," according to its website.

Apple has always been notoriously secretive, but it recently started allowing its AI and machine learning researchers to publish papers. The company's contributions to the broader artificial intelligence research community could help it attract top talent that would not otherwise want to join the tech giant.

Apple has been recruiting talent and acquired several AI-related companies in recent months, including Turi, VocalIQ, Perceptio, and Emotient, to build out its in-house AI team led by Carnegie Mellon professor Russ Salakhutdinov.

Apple is rumored to be working on "enhanced" Siri capabilities for next-generation iPhones to keep up with competitors such as Amazon's Alexa.


Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Set to Join Microsoft, Google, Facebook, in AI Research Group

Apple will take a significant step toward disclosing more of its artificial intelligence research this week by becoming a member of a non-profit AI research consortium founded by five of the tech industry's biggest players.

Last September, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and IBM publicly announced The Partnership on AI, an organisation established "to study and formulate best practices, to advance the public's understanding of AI, and to serve as an open platform for discussion and engagement about AI and its influences on people and society".

Partnership on AI
As one of the biggest researchers in AI, Apple's name was conspicuously absent, but that looks set to change in the coming days, following a Bloomberg report on Thursday that Cupertino is ready to add its name to The Partnership's list of corporate heavyweights.
According to its website, the Partnership on AI intends to conduct research, organize discussions, share insights, provide thought leadership, consult with relevant third parties, respond to questions from the public and media, and create educational material that advance the understanding of AI technologies including machine perception, learning, and automated reasoning.
Apple's imminent membership is just the latest indication that the company is prepared to reveal more of its work in areas of artificial intelligence. At an invitation-only AI conference held in Barcelona last month, where Apple employees discussed their work in various related fields, the company announced it would begin allowing its AI and machine learning researchers to publish and share their work in papers.

Two weeks later, the first paper was published, covering Apple's work on intelligent image recognition. Cupertino is also known to be working on a range of other AI projects, including health and vital signs, LiDAR, neural networks, intelligent assistant and language modeling, and activity recognition.

While the Partnership's founding members are committed to publishing a wide range of research under an open license, just how much of this work will be shared remains unclear, but we should know more soon. Apple is expected to announce its membership in the Partnership later this week.


Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Working on ‘Enhanced Siri’ Capabilities for Next-Generation iPhones

iOS-9-SiriA collection of the world's top-selling smartphone makers, including Apple, Samsung, Huawei, LG, and Xiaomi, are all planning to double down on artificial intelligence features on handsets launching this year, and beyond.

According to industry sources (via DigiTimes), the companies are hoping an improvement to AI assistant capabilities will "ramp up market shares in 2017."

For Apple, that means the company is gearing up to add in an "enhanced Siri" to next-generation iPhone devices, although it's unclear whether that means the upcoming 2017 iPhone 8, or another model launching after this year. It's not specified what exactly an enhanced version of Siri will be able to accomplish, but an overall improvement to voice recognition and better contextual understanding of user requests might be part of the update.

DigiTimes' report specifically references Apple's acquisition of machine learning and AI startup Turi last August as a way that the company intends to bolster Siri's reliability with consumers, "as well as the market share" over other AI assistants like Amazon's Alexa, Microsoft's Cortana, and Google Assistant.
Smartphone vendors, including Apple, Samsung Electronics, Huawei, LG Electronics and Xiaomi Technology, are likely to introduce models featuring AI (artificial intelligence) applications as a means to ramp up market shares in 2017, according to industry sources.

Apple acquired Australia-based machine learning startup Turi in August 2016, aiming to further strengthen the functionality, as well as the market share, of its Siri intelligent personal assistant. Meanwhile, market sources have also indicated that Apple's next-generation iPhone devices are likely to come with enhanced Siri.
In terms of competition, Huawei -- as the third-largest smartphone maker in the world -- is reportedly ready to battle Apple and Samsung, with AI as a leading feature. Huawei recently launched the Mate 9 in the United States with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant pre-installed, giving users an easier way to navigate the smartphone, and representing its first move in the fight to overcome Apple and Samsung in the AI space.

Google last year launched its Google Pixel smartphone with Google Assistant, and other smartphone vendors have already been looked at to promote adoption of the Assistant, including Xiaomi. In a comparison video that pitted Siri against Google Assistant, YouTuber Marques Brownlee ultimately discovered that while Siri gave him more information, Google Assistant was the more personable and enjoyable AI experience.

Samsung is believed to be launching the Galaxy S8 sometime in Spring 2017 as an attempt to put the Note7 in the past for good, and the new smartphone is currently rumored to include an AI assistant named Bixby, "which is likely to become a main feature of Samsung's next-generation flagship model," according to industry sources.

LG is said to be in talks with both Google and Amazon to leverage each company's voice assistant in LG products, including the addition of Alexa into a collection of LG home appliances, as well as its upcoming smartphone the LG G6.

AI assistants have become increasingly popular over the past few years, and Apple has only gained competition in the space as Siri remained largely unchanged over the past few iOS updates. The company is rumored to be launching an Echo-like speaker as well, which would place Siri as a constant present in the user's home and include the ability to play music, get news headlines, and more, without needing to interact with their iPhone. In response, last year it was reported that Amazon is working on an updated Echo with a 7-inch touchscreen to "fend off competition" from Apple and Google Home.


Discuss this article in our forums

Starbucks app to get voice ordering: One more way to avoid human interaction

Https%3a%2f%2fblueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com%2fuploads%2fcard%2fimage%2f310550%2fap_16293443308005

Feed-twFeed-fb

Expending the energy to swipe through the Starbucks’ app menu to order coffee first thing in the morning is hard, right? It would be much easier to just groggily command Siri to queue up the order — with extra sugar. 

At Starbucks Investor Day 2016, the coffee giant teased a new feature that will soon make its immensely popular mobile app even more intuitive: an AI-based voice command ordering system called My Starbucks Barista. 

An expansion of Starbucks’ new high-end Italian bakeries, Princi, was also announced at the event.  Read more…

More about Customer Service, Mobile Apps, Coffee, Artificial Intelligence, and Starbucks