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Microsoft hopes to counter Apple with AI-driven 'invisible user interfaces' on future devices

post #1 of 84
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Just days after officially announcing Cortana, a Siri-like personal digital assistant for Windows Phone, Microsoft has revealed a substantial and wide-ranging artificial intelligence program it hopes will leapfrog similar offerings from Apple and Google.

Cortana, the Halo character after which Microsoft's Siri competitor is named
Cortana, the virtual character after which Microsoft's Siri competitor is named


"User interface started with the command prompt, moved to graphics, then touch, and then gestures," Microsoft research executive Yoram Yaakobi told the Wall Street Journal. "It's now moving to invisible UI, where there is nothing to operate. The tech around you understands you and what you want to do. We're putting this at the forefront of our efforts."

With the push, dubbed "UI.Next," Microsoft is pursuing a future in which users do not need to tell their device what to do -- by touching or speaking to it, for instance -- and instead passively consume information that the device has already prepared in anticipation of their needs.

Both Apple and Google have nodded in this direction already, though the technology is far from mature. Apple's Passbook, for instance, can dynamically surface information like event tickets based on the user's location, while Google's Google Now will adjust a user's schedule based on traffic conditions.
Microsoft is reportedly "investing heavily" in so-called "invisible user interface" tech
"We were in an AI winter, and now we're in an AI spring," Microsoft research vice president Jeannette Wing said at a Microsoft event in Tel Aviv, referring to the new industry-wide focus on artificial intelligence. She pointed to Cortana's natural language processing as Microsoft's opening salvo.

"I speak to Cortana, Cortana responds. I speak back to it, and it understands that we're still in the same conversation. It knows from the first sentence I said what I'm referring to," she said. "That seems like such a small thing for human beings, but it's huge."

Similar natural language abilities have been a hallmark of Apple's Siri since the feature's debut, and the company has been seen making moves to bolster the underlying technology as well as expand Siri's capabilities. Reports of a new Boston-based team of speech recognition experts tasked with improving Siri began circulating last summer, while word that Apple had acquired speech recognition firm Novauris Technologies, makers of a system that could allow Siri to process voice input locally rather than in the cloud, surfaced last week.
post #2 of 84

I wonder if they will ever give Siri a face?

post #3 of 84
Let's see !!!!!

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There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.

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post #4 of 84
If Microsoft wants tech that is invisible, they first need to solve two problems: 1) Windows doesn't work like that, and 2) Microsoft's reliance on Windows to extend their hegemony over people.

The problem with Microsoft tech is that it is the opposite of invisible: it's unruly, tasteless, and demands that you, the user, solve basic problem. As a Windows user, not only do I see "the man behind the curtain" (from The Wizard of Oz), but I have to fix everything that's wrong when the man behind the curtain stops responding. How many times have I heard "just reboot" or "time to reinstall Windows" or "just edit your registry" or "just google the error code"? Tech is not gonna be "invisible" until it just goddamn works.

I'll believe it when I see it, but if UI.Next is fundamentally built on Microsoft's existing products and tech, then I HAVE SERIOUS DOUBTS about UI.Next being nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Another shiny wallpaper sitting atop a 30 year old legacy of code.

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post #5 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post
 

I wonder if they will ever give Siri a face?

I hope not. They will never be able to give me what I have envisioned Siri to look like.  One fine black woman in a bikini with huge T&A. LOL

post #6 of 84
Just don't get creepy. Nor murderous.
post #7 of 84
Why force a face to your digital PA? HAL9000 didn't have one, Star Trek didn't use one. It's whatever your imagination wants it to look like. Like a character in a book %u2013 much better without a Hollywood actor's face assigned to it.
post #8 of 84
AI will be a real breakthrough when a person can mention something that vaguely references a conversation from weeks, months or years prior. At that point AI replaces assistants, secretaries and hired professionals.

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post #9 of 84
Anyone else thinks it's funny they chose "next"?
post #10 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by CustomTB View Post

Anyone else thinks it's funny they chose "next"?

More of a Samsung move, right?

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post #11 of 84
Oh goody more vaporware for sites like The Verge to drool over.
post #12 of 84

Does Siri understand commands that are said as part of context? E.g. Asking for a list of restaurants and then asking which take reservations and it knowing that your still talking about the list of restaurants. I didn't think it did, article seems to suggest otherwise though.

post #13 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"User interface started with the command prompt, moved to graphics, then touch, and then gestures," Microsoft research executive Yoram Yaakobi told the Wall Street Journal. "It's now moving to invisible UI, where there is nothing to operate. The tech around you understands you and what you want to do. We're putting this at the forefront of our efforts."

Gestures has only ever been a UI paradigm in the fantasies of Microsoft executives
Quote:
With the push, dubbed "UI.Next," Microsoft is pursuing a future in which users do not need to tell their device what to do -- by touching or speaking to it, for instance -- and instead passively consume information that the device has already prepared in anticipation of their needs.

Does anyone else here find this vision of the future as utterly revolting as I do?
post #14 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

If Microsoft wants tech that is invisible, they first need to solve two problems: 1) Windows doesn't work like that, and 2) Microsoft's reliance on Windows to extend their hegemony over people.

The problem with Microsoft tech is that it is the opposite of invisible: it's unruly, tasteless, and demands that you, the user, solve basic problem. As a Windows user, not only do I see "the man behind the curtain" (from The Wizard of Oz), but I have to fix everything that's wrong when the man behind the curtain stops responding. How many times have I heard "just reboot" or "time to reinstall Windows" or "just edit your registry" or "just google the error code"? Tech is not gonna be "invisible" until it just goddamn works.

I'll believe it when I see it, but if UI.Next is fundamentally built on Microsoft's existing products and tech, then I HAVE SERIOUS DOUBTS about UI.Next being nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Another shiny wallpaper sitting atop a 30 year old legacy of code.

 

It really is a joke hearing Microsoft speak in these terms. They haven't fixed any of these basic issues you described (and the real problem is, they don't see them as issues). They can't possibly have any idea how to tackle a user-less UI, as they don't even have an OS that can operate well without an advanced user at the terminal.

post #15 of 84
"I speak to Cortana, Cortana responds. I speak back to it, and it understands that we're still in the same conversation. It knows from the first sentence I said what I'm referring to," she said. "That seems like such a small thing for human beings, but it's huge."

When true, MS will be 100 times bigger than Apple.
post #16 of 84
well, it's good that they're focusing their efforts on the obvious path forward, although a few yrs late to the game. still possible to catch up.
post #17 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

"User interface started with the command prompt, moved to graphics, then touch, and then gestures," Microsoft research executive Yoram Yaakobi told the Wall Street Journal.

Just don't forget where these came from MS. It certainly wasn't you.
post #18 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by iaeen View Post

Does anyone else here find this vision of the future as utterly revolting as I do?
yes. Quite honestly this whole internet of things and sensor mania seems to be getting out of control. Like refrigerators that know when you're out of something and automatically reorder it for you and have it sent to your house. I'm not interested in a Jetsons like universe.
post #19 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by knowitall View Post

"I speak to Cortana, Cortana responds. I speak back to it, and it understands that we're still in the same conversation. It knows from the first sentence I said what I'm referring to," she said. "That seems like such a small thing for human beings, but it's huge."

When true, MS will be 100 times bigger than Apple.


Umm...it is true

post #20 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by fallenartist View Post

HAL9000 didn't have one

Incorrect.

Hal did have a face.

In fact, more than one.

Because he was a two-faced, murderous, son-of-a-bitch.

1wink.gif
post #21 of 84
Does anybody ever get curious if, whenever you give Siri a command, which she executes, which is then followed up by an exclamation from yourself like, 'For f*cks sake!', or 'What the f*ck?', or 'You f*cking moron!' whether that is then secretly submitted back to Apple as negative feedback for the improvement of it?

1wink.gif
post #22 of 84
OMG, are they nuts, again M$ thinks they know what is best again and will attempt to make product which seem to know what you want. Really, how many people you know, know what they want at any given time of the day. Most people walk around in a fog and ignorant bliss. Somehow M$ is going o make sense of a human and predict what they want to do and just make it happen before they type, talk or gesture.
post #23 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTR View Post

Does anybody ever get curious if, whenever you give Siri a command, which she executes, which is then followed up by an exclamation from yourself like, 'For f*cks sake!', or 'What the f*ck?', or 'You f*cking moron!' whether that is then secretly submitted back to Apple as negative feedback for the improvement of it?

1wink.gif


I hope so along with detecting frustration and anger in the way your asking it to do something. Adding an event called "work Christmas party" that wasn't on Christmas day seemed totally beyond her.

post #24 of 84
This is rich, Microsoft, who held on to the command line interface while ridiculing Apple GUI, is lecturing us.
A.k.a. AppleHead on other forums.
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post #25 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

AI will be a real breakthrough when a person can mention something that vaguely references a conversation from weeks, months or years prior. At that point AI replaces assistants, secretaries and hired professionals.

 

Nah, AI will never replace any of them - At least until it knows when, where, and why it shouldn't bring up or remind people of conversations, events, transgressions, etc. "from weeks, months or years prior"

post #26 of 84

I don't know about anyone else, but MS user interfaces are already invisible to me. I simply don't use them! It's been the best thing I've ever done.

post #27 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post

Does Siri understand commands that are said as part of context? E.g. Asking for a list of restaurants and then asking which take reservations and it knowing that your still talking about the list of restaurants. I didn't think it did, article seems to suggest otherwise though.
Yes, Siri has had this ability since last year. To test I searched for a restaurant she brought up a list. I said take me to the closest one. She opened maps and plotted a course to the closest.
post #28 of 84
Anyone notice siri wont help you hide bodies anymore? She responds with " i used to know this"
post #29 of 84

MS can talk all they like. 

 

Meanwhile their entire mobile strategy barely has any traction in the market. 

post #30 of 84
I don't know about this Cortana but I have both Siri and Google Now on my iPhone and the latter understands my questions correctly far more often than the former unfortunately, to the point now that I barely use Siri at all.
post #31 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by iaeen View Post

Gestures has only ever been a UI paradigm in the fantasies of Microsoft executives
Does anyone else here find this vision of the future as utterly revolting as I do?

Yes.
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post #32 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

yes. Quite honestly this whole internet of things and sensor mania seems to be getting out of control. Like refrigerators that know when you're out of something and automatically reorder it for you and have it sent to your house. I'm not interested in a Jetsons like universe.

My sentiments, too. For how many decades have nerds drooled over smart fridges?
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iPad a Dream.
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post #33 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by shigh View Post

Anyone notice siri wont help you hide bodies anymore? She responds with " i used to know this"

Hide bodies? I haven't yet murdered anyone, so I haven't come across this deleted feature.
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post #34 of 84
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Originally Posted by genovelle View Post

Yes, Siri has had this ability since last year. To test I searched for a restaurant she brought up a list. I said take me to the closest one. She opened maps and plotted a course to the closest.

I tested Siri for the original poster's remarks and saw Siri understand the context of the questions. Before responding I read your post and tested Siri for it. Siri did as you wrote. What I found interesting was the restaurants with reservations list had been onscreen for two minutes or so before I asked for the closest restaurant.

I have no doubt Siri still has a long way to go, but which company doing similar things do not?
post #35 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by shigh View Post

Anyone notice siri wont help you hide bodies anymore? She responds with " i used to know this"

 

Alternatively she will answer "It can be done in plain sight - Check out 'My Weekend at Bernies' in the iTunes Store"

post #36 of 84

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

With the push, dubbed "UI.Next," Microsoft is pursuing a future in which users do not need to tell their device what to do -- by touching or speaking to it, for instance -- and instead passively consume information that the device has already prepared in anticipation of their needs.
 

The new Clippy, yet even more invasive. Sounds like a winner.

 

 

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post #37 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by knowitall View Post

"I speak to Cortana, Cortana responds. I speak back to it, and it understands that we're still in the same conversation. It knows from the first sentence I said what I'm referring to," she said. "That seems like such a small thing for human beings, but it's huge."

When true, MS will be 100 times bigger than Apple.

LOL. Is that you, Peter Bright? And did you touch yourself when you said that?

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #38 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by leavingthebigG View Post

I tested Siri for the original poster's remarks and saw Siri understand the context of the questions. Before responding I read your post and tested Siri for it. Siri did as you wrote. What I found interesting was the restaurants with reservations list had been onscreen for two minutes or so before I asked for the closest restaurant.

I have no doubt Siri still has a long way to go, but which company doing similar things do not?
Here is a video of Siri doing a lot of task, including showing context awareness. http://www.valuewalk.com/2013/12/siri-apple-inc-aapl-commands/
post #39 of 84
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
The new Clippy, yet even more invasive. Sounds like a winner. 

 

Oh dear… 

 

Cortana is just Clippy with breasts, isn’t it?

Originally posted by Relic

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Originally posted by Relic

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post #40 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTR View Post

Incorrect.

Hal did have a face.

In fact, more than one.

Because he was a two-faced, murderous, son-of-a-bitch.

1wink.gif

Now you know how I always enjoy your prickly, provocative point of view, but I just can't let this one pass, not in this context.

HAL is the tragic figure in Clarke's and Kubrick's drama, a victim of bad programming by his duplicitous American handlers. On the one hand he's designed to sense and report on the absolute reality of everything going on around him. On the other hand, he's been told to keep the reason for the mission a secret from the crew.

Unsolvable dilemma! A human could just sweep it under the rug mentally, put it where he puts all his denials. An honest computer will go insane.

A lesson for us all. This is why the New York critics hated the movie. They didn't see the anti-technocratic, anti-American satire, because they lived in the nerve center of imperial America. But Clarke the ex-pat Brit and Kubrick the ex-pat Yank had a lot of fun with this satire throughout the movie, like when Dr. Floyd comments on how "real" the fake ham sandwiches are on the way to visit the monolith on the Moon.

I've often thought that HAL needs his own PR makeover campaign.
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