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Tag Archives: Jelly Bean

Is Siri Understanding?

Yesterday, July 28th, 2012, Tech Crunch’s Nadav Gur wrote an excellent article on what it is, exactly, that Siri and any spinoffs need to do to become true virtual personal assistants.  The article, From Information to Understanding: Moving Beyond Search In The Age of Siri, details the benefits of a true aid in our search for knowledge which requires, to some extent, understanding what we are looking for when we speak.

Siri, for those of you unfamiliar with the technology, is the virtual personal assistant, or artificial intelligence (Ai) feature, built into the current iPhone 4S.  I think the article speaks for itself  and won’t go into depth in citing it but would like to highlight a few concepts in it that I think we can all agree with once we have a deeper understanding of the subject.

On the surface, Siri can be considered a cute little feature of the iPhone 4S and, soon, the iPad third generation, the iPad 7 (my handle for an expected 7″ iPad model in the not too distant future), and, most likely, most new iOS devices from here on out for the foreseeable future.  But a deeper exploration would prove the notion of her being just a feature, to be false.

Siri, in reality, is anything but a cute little add-on.  She is, in the true sense of the words, Artificial Intelligence beyond that previously accessible to the average person on the street.  We speak and she, not only, listens but attempts to comprehend to the extent that she can predict exactly what it is that we are looking for contextually.  In use, we may become frustrated that she doesn’t seem to “Get It” when we say something, but that may very well be because she is trying to do so much more than “Get It”, she is attempting to understand and interpret exactly what we want.

Upon closer examination, that’s pretty amazing stuff and the type of thing that was in sci fi movies and books that we, as baby boomers, enjoyed while growing up.  In those days, that type of “Robot” notion was pretty far fetched, but in 2012 it has become a very common reality.

I think back in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, we knew we’d be in for some pretty mind bending stuff in the future being on the brink of atomic and nuclear power and space exploration to name a few of our firsts.  But even then, did we really expect this to happen in our life times, to the extent, and at the speed that it is happening today?  I know I watch these things develop enthralled with the continuing array of new technology.

So, to answer the question, “Is Siri Understanding?”, I’d have to say that this model of Ai is a working model at the forefront of what will develop to be a true comprehending and responsive evolution in the future.  I believe that, to some degree, Siri does understand what we’re saying and attempts to predict what we’re looking for.  Siri, and the newly introduced Android equivalent, Google Now, need to be seen and tested to be appreciated.  Will they replace an individual’s personal enjoyment of the quest for learning and finding new things on their own and quenching that thirst for knowledge that most human’s possess? I doubt it.  Will they make future generations lazy or too dependent on new technologies to think for themselves?  I hope not.  But are they here to stay?  Probably.  Kick back and join me in watching, with fascination, these creations of younger generations which are moving at a staggering pace.

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How Does the Google Nexus 7 Stack Up?

Now that I have had a chance to play around with a new Nexus 7 for several days, I can say my reactions are mixed.  The screen view is incredibly clear, even for my old eyes, but the touch response leaves a bit to be desired. This early Android Jelly Bean release features “Google Now”, Android’s much touted Siri counterpart, which, imho, also leaves a bit to be desired.  So as not to totally confuse you, Jelly Bean is Android’s latest OS (Operating System) and newly released last week.  Actually, if memory serves (and it doesn’t always these days), the same day this new 7″ Asus tablet was released.

Jelly Bean is quite impressive looking upon start up.  I like the simplistic arrangement of the icons and home screen.  Finding your way around is not as intuitive as I’d like to see but is also not totally impossible to figure out upon a few minutes of trial and error playing around.

“Google Now’s”, haven’t named her yet, comprehension of what is being said is pretty limited, although better than Apple’s Siri, again in my opinion.  Her response time isn’t bad but her ability to speak seems to be on again off again.  One minute she’s a bright and shining star with character and “personality?” the next she’s not talking at all but merely pumping out written responses to your requests for information, most of which are web searches.

Both Ai’s are admittedly in their relative infancy’s, but as highly touted and promoted features, they don’t really stand up to the test of their mettle (I guess it’s only natural to assign human characteristics to these new characters!).  I’m sure both will develop in time to be quite awesome, especially for a generation that grew up without computers throughout schools as did the baby boomers, but at release, neither are quite ready for primetime and may be more frustration than they’re worth!

The Nexus 7 or the iPad 7 (if the rumored to be new 7″ iPad that’ll have Apple’s Siri on it, in all likelihood) should prove to be hot stocking stuffers (well maybe a little bit more  than stocking stuffers) this coming Holiday Season. That is, if my predictions for a Pre-Christmas iPad 7″ tablet release, hold true and if, and this is a big “IF”, the iPad 7 can compete with the price point of the Nexus 7.  The New Nexus 7 sells for $199 for the 8Gb version and $249 for the 16Gb version.  By then, all operating systems should be new – i.e. Jelly Bean for the Nexus 7, and iOS 6.x for the iPad.

Don’t take my word for it, get out there and give Siri or Google Now, or both, a  spin and let me know what you think.  Google Now is available on Jelly Bean OS Models and Siri is available now on iPhone 4S’s.  You don’t have to buy one to try one, they’re available at displays in your local electronics stores and/or departments.  I know, I know, how can you talk to a gadget at the store and wait for an “Intelligent” response, you’re saying.  Well, just think, they’ve had us talking to machines for some time now every time we call anywhere, be that private homes, cell phones, businesses, government, and on and on.  You should be quite used to it and, worst yet, everyone around you should be used to hearing people talk to machines and expect an answer!  Bottom line, no excuses to not see what all the hubbub is about, check them out now.