RankBrain uses artificial intelligence to embed vast amounts of written language into mathematical entities — called vectors — that the computer can understand. If RankBrain sees a word or phrase it isn’t familiar with, the machine can make a guess as to what words or phrases might have a similar meaning and filter the result accordingly, making it more effective at handling never-before-seen search queries. […]
The system helps Mountain View, California-based Google deal with the 15 percent of queries a day it gets which its systems have never seen before, he said. For example, it’s adept at dealing with ambiguous queries, like, “What’s the title of the consumer at the highest level of a food chain?” And RankBrain’s usage of AI means it works differently than the other technologies in the search engine.
“The other signals, they’re all based on discoveries and insights that people in information retrieval have had, but there’s no learning,” Corrado said. […]
In the few months it has been deployed, RankBrain has become the third-most important signal contributing to the result of a search query, he said.
Benedict Evans, in his blog post titled “Mobile is not a neutral platform”:
Really, what we see here is a search for another run-time. We had the web, and then we added apps, and now we look for another. Notifications? Siri/Now? Messaging (as forWeChat in China)? Something else? But each of the previous run-times lacked search, discovery and acquisition as a fundamental part of the architecture – they had to be added later (and arguably that’s still not there with apps). On Facebook’s desktop platform, in contrast, both halves were there almost from the beginning. The next run-times on mobile might have both halves too.
Related to the notion that the importance of the homescreen is diminishing.
Rachel David, for The Guardian, asked two scientists and two artists for their views on robot creativity. My favorite is from Michael Osborne, associate professor in machine learning, University of Oxford:
Another problem is that it is difficult to automate the combination of ideas from many different sources that forms the source of much of human creativity: you might find inspiration from an interview with a neuroscientist in designing a new office layout. Putting some evidence to our thesis, we found, for both the UK or the US, that almost 90% of creative jobs are at low or no risk of automation.
“Your dishwasher is a robot,” Rubin said. “It used to be a chore you did in the sink. … There’s a lot of definitions [of artificial intelligence]. … The thing that’s going to be new is the part of the cloud that’s forming the intelligence from all of the information that’s coming back.” […]
[Rubin has started] Playground Global, a startup “incubator” that nurtures budding hardware companies. […]
Rubin, speaking about his departure from Google, said he questioned what he was going to do for the next 10 years of his life. “Am I going to fight for 1 or 2 percent market share [in mobile devices], or am I going to do 10 more Androids?” he said. Playground closed its fundraising efforts “yesterday literally,” Rubin said Wednesday, and will now have $300 million to invest in hardware companies.
The real risk with AI isn’t malice but competence […]. A superintelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals, and if those goals aren’t aligned with ours, we’re in trouble.
You’re probably not an evil ant-hater who steps on ants out of malice, but if you’re in charge of a hydroelectric green energy project and there’s an anthill in the region to be flooded, too bad for the ants. Let’s not place humanity in the position of those ants.
Car dashboards seem drastically behind the times in terms of UI; they are unintuitive, cluttered with unnecessary information and, worst of all, distracting. […]
Somehow over the last 100 years we have accepted that complex dashboards — highlighting all the features and technologies in a car with individual controls — are essential.
In reality, we as drivers and car owners are living in a world of information overload. […] And yet, all this information is displayed persistently in my dashboard. […]
However, technology adoption in cars today is hitting an inflection point, and the UI model we have grown accustomed to cannot handle it. […]
We seem to be on the cusp of change, especially with Apple’s anticipated entry into the car market. The trend of direct control and complexity cannot continue; the industry needs a new vision for the dashboard. […]
Going forward, the industry should adopt a model of on-demand UI rather than direct control. In this model, information and controls would only be provided when needed.
He goes on to outline principles around concealing, anticipating, and personalizing the information shown. Good read.
The acquisition could help Apple’s efforts to bolster Siri, which is controlled by voice commands and sometimes struggles to understand users.
VocalIQ says on its website that its software helps computers speak more naturally by learning from each interaction with a human, employing an artificial-intelligence technique called deep learning. VocalIQ software also seeks to help computers better understand commands and their context.
Nuance told Engadget that its mobile cloud service processed 4.07 billion voice transactions in Q2 2015. That’s a roughly 49 percent increase from the 2.74 billion transactions during the same period in 2014.
So get ready for a future where you’re spending more time talking to Siri. Apple’s actual voice-assistant roadmap (in typical Apple fashion) is a bit of a mystery. But in the home, expect the voice assistant to take on an increasingly larger role as HomeKit and the Apple TV evolve and gain traction. CarPlay vehicles will become increasingly available to new car buyers and the iPhone will still tell you what the weather is outside.
Your voice is the new user interface and Apple is building a platform just to hear what you have to say.
“Has built” may be a better way to phrase it, for that last sentence, but that’s just knit-picking.
Apple has ramped up its hiring of artificial intelligence experts, recruiting from PhD programs, posting dozens of job listings and greatly increasing the size of its AI staff, a review of hiring sites suggests and numerous sources confirm. […]
One former Apple employee in the area […] estimated the number of machine learning experts had tripled or quadrupled in the past few years. […]
Machine learning experts who want unfettered access to data tend to shy away from jobs at Apple, former employees say. […]
And some machine learning experts might be enticed by the challenge of matching Google’s smarts amid privacy constraints, suggested John Duchi, an assistant professor at Stanford University.
“New flavors of problems are exciting,” he said.
I’m hoping that there are more candidates “enticed by the challenge” than ones who “shy away”, but we’ll see. As I’ve said before, if there’s a list of Apple’s top-5 computing priorities for the next five years, I believe machine learning is on it.
At one point, the company planned a stripped-down Fire phone, but Amazon has stretched out its timeline for smartphone development indefinitely, people familiar with the matter said.
2. You can download Cortana for your Android device right now – here’s how Just interesting to see Microsoft’s cross-platform strategy evolve.
4. Xiaomi to release two chipsets for in-house use next year Focus appears to be cost. See my prior related post.
5. Huawei brings online smartphone brand Honor to Europe “Handsets would be mainly promoted and sold on-line […].”
6. Revealed: the first hydrogen-powered battery that will charge your Apple iPhone for a week Note: most small companies use an iPhone to demonstrate their capability. Primarily because it makes the invention look ready for prime time. And — as you can see — it increases the odds of generating a click-bait headline. Plus, yes, they’re hoping someone at Apple notices and sees “how well it fits in”, so to speak. Or that another potential acquirer thinks “Oh – I wouldn’t want Apple to buy them”.
- Unfortunately, Google is struggling with a number of issues that will limit its ability to keep Google Now far ahead of its competitors unless it moves fast.
- First. Its latest innovation Now on Tap (see here) which has the potential to meaningfully improve Google’s data collection, requires Android M to work.
- Google’s inability to update the software on its devices means that it could be 2017 or 2018 before Android M will be mainstream (see here).
- Second. Many of the core team who developed Google Now have left the company after their creation was folded into the core search business against their wishes.
- Cortana on Android is another move by Microsoft to make its ecosystem operating system agnostic, aiming instead to encourage users to like and spend time with its services.
- This is exactly the right strategy for Microsoft to become an ecosystem company but […] there is still an awful lot of work ahead.
I’m digging out after being on a great vacation in Maui, Hawaii with extended family. It’s also good to be back, though. Below are some interesting articles or sentences that caught my eye recently.
1. Xiaomi rumored to launch a Windows 10 tablet in the upcoming months. I believe it’s possible. Largely because of this.
I have some travel coming up, and within seconds—literally—of asking Cortana some questions, I was able to check the weather forecast for my destination, find a handful of restaurants around my hotel, and find out what kind of facilities are offered there. I also quickly found a couple of specific recipes online, search for some images, launched some applications, and added a handful of reminders to my calendar. I even had Cortana remind me to get up and walk around every couple of hours, so I wasn’t glued to my office chair for too long each day.
I’m looking forward to trying it out. The first system-wide assistant on a large-scale OS.
The tiny infrared detector is effectively a smarter, more connected pedestrian traffic sensor: it tells apps how many people are entering or leaving a building at any moment, giving you a good sense of whether that restaurant is packed or blissfully empty.
It’s going to be a sensor-filled world. It’s just a question of when.
“I don’t tweet, mainly because I’ve noticed that some of the other people with jobs like mine have either ended up doing all promotional tweets, which is boring, or writing something half-thought-out that would be better used in a more considered piece of writing,” he told Business Insider.
Words to ponder.
Mr. Turlington: Any dips**t can take pictures […] Art, that’s special. What can you bring to it that nobody else can?
Applies to many things in work and life.
“On a phone, the biggest intellectual difference is you don’t go to your search box as your first resort,” said Keith Rabois, a partner at the venture capital firm Khosla Ventures, who has invested in a search start-up called Relcy. “On a watch, it’s inconceivable that you would go to a search box perhaps at all.”
This is why Google and Apple are investing so intensely in advancing Google Now and Siri.
Machine learning is to 21st century devices as the graphical user interface was to 20th century computers [in terms of how] critical it will be to a high-performance product.
Kevin Fitchard, for GigaOm (when it was still operating) wrote an interesting piece on Qualcomm’s “Zeroth” technology, expected soon. It’s from March, but still very relevant.
New cognitive computing technology Zeroth […] aims to bring artificial intelligence out of the cloud and move it – or at least a limited version of it – into your phone. […] I sat down with Qualcomm SVP of product management Raj Talluri, who explained what Zeroth was all about. […]
Zeroth […] will perform basic intuitive tasks and anticipate your actions, thus eliminating many of the rudimentary steps required to operate the increasingly complex smartphone, Talluri explained. […]
The most basic use case would be taking better photos as it can optimize the shot for the types of objects in them. It could also populate photos with tons of useful metadata. Then you could build on that foundation with other applications. Your smartphone might recognize, for instance, that you’re taking a bunch of landscape and architecture shots in foreign locale and automatically upload them to a vacation album on Flickr. A selfie might automatically produce a Facebook post prompt. […]
Other examples of Zeroth applications include devices that could automatically adjust their power performance to the habits of its owner or scan its surroundings sensors to determine what a user’s most likely next smartphone action might be. […]
Zeroth itself isn’t a separate chip or component. It’s a software architecture designed to run across the different elements of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors […].
Exciting. It wouldn’t surprise me if Apple’s enhancements to Siri use similar technology. I’m not sure of the approach that Android, Google Play Services, or Android vendors will take. Perhaps, for instance, Google Now will simply take advantage of Zeroth capabilities for Google-Now-Relevant functionality, while the OEMs apply Zeroth to other consumer problems.
Chennapragada spelled out the three-pronged direction [for Google Now on Tap] — what she called the “bets” her team is taking. The first bet was embedding Now with Google’s full “Knowledge Graph” — the billions-thick Web of people, places and things and their many interconnections.
The second is context. Now groks both the user’s location and the myriad of signals from others in the same spot. If you enter a mall, Now will tailor cards to what people in that mall typically ask for. “Both your feet are at the mall. You shouldn’t have to spell it out,” Chennapragada said. “Why should I futz with the phone and wade through 15 screens?”
And this is where the third benchmark for Now comes in: Tying that context to the apps on your phone, or ones you have yet to download. In two years, Google has indexed some 50 billion links within apps. In April, it began listing install links to apps deemed relevant in search. Indexed apps will be included in Now on Tap when it arrives in the latest Android version this fall.
I’m looking forward to trying out Google Now on Tap.