Apple buys machine learning specialist Inductiv to bolster Siri, AI projects

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 2020
Adding to a mounting number of artificial intelligence-related acquisitions, Apple in the past few weeks purchased Ontario-based Inductiv to work on Siri and machine learning initiatives.

Siri


Apple confirmed the buy in a boilerplate statement to Bloomberg, saying it "buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

Inductiv developed a system that relies on AI to automatically identify and correct errors in data, the report said. Error rectification is an important facet of machine learning, which itself aims to complete complex tasks without human intervention.

The firm was co-founded by University of Waterloo professor Ihab Ilyas, University of Wisconsin-Madison assistant professor Theodoros Rekatsinas and Stanford University professor Christopher Re, all machine learning experts. This is the second Apple acquisition for Re, who saw his "dark data" AI company, Lattice Data, scooped up for $200 million in 2017.

A number of Inductiv employees have updated their LinkedIn profiles to reflect moves to Apple. Some team members, like Josh McGrath and Mina Farid are now "Machine Learning Engineers" at the tech giant, while Ryan Clancy is listed as a "Software Engineer." Each reports to a team overseen by SVP of Machine Learning John Giannandrea, the former head of Google's machine learning division who was promoted to his current senior executive role at Apple at the end of 2018.

The Inductiv purchase continues a string of AI-related acquisitions that started with Perceptioin 2015. Apple went on to buy out Turi and Tuplejump in 2016, Laserlike in 2019 and, most recently, Xnor.ai in January.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 14
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,774member
    Not to repeat myself here but let's hope this finally improves Siri... Though I unfortunately doubt it. 

    Latest Siri idiocy: "Hey Siri, remind me in 15 minutes to do x" "Ok, I've set a reminder for yesterday at nn:nn." Wtf? How in the hell have they managed to introduce a bug like that? Even more odd is that the reminder actually goes off at the correct time on other devices.

    Another one I've discovered is you can't add "thyme" to a shopping list. Siri just flat out doesn't understand that "thyme" doesn't always refer to "time" , no matter how you phrase it. So I've taken to saying "Add the herb thyme to my shopping list", which results in "the herb Thyme" listed instead... Not great. At all.
    edited May 2020 flyingdppatchythepiratedysamoria
  • Reply 2 of 14
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    elijahg said:
    Not to repeat myself here but let's hope this finally improves Siri... Though I unfortunately doubt it. 

    Latest Siri idiocy: "Hey Siri, remind me in 15 minutes to do x" "Ok, I've set a reminder for yesterday at nn:nn." Wtf? How in the hell have they managed to introduce a bug like that? Even more odd is that the reminder actually goes off at the correct time on other devices.

    Another one I've discovered is you can't add "thyme" to a shopping list. Siri just flat out doesn't understand that "thyme" doesn't always refer to "time" , no matter how you phrase it. So I've taken to saying "Add the herb thyme to my shopping list", which results in "the herb Thyme" listed instead... Not great. At all.

    Interesting. 

    Even though I find the phrasing “remind me in 15 minutes to do x” a bit odd, I gave it a bash and it worked fine. I usually say “remind me to do x in 15 minutes”, but Siri is happy with either. 

    I run into the second one occasionally. You can hit edit and one of the options will be “add thyme to the shopping list”, so it obviously knows what thyme is. What I find is that Siri will then add both entries to the list 🙄. 

    The easiest thing to do is spell out the word:

    “Add t-h-y-m-e to shopping list”


    randominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 14
    pujones1pujones1 Posts: 222member
    I’ve had high hopes for Siri to develop and be more intuitive but it really hasn’t happened yet. At some some point we will see if these acquisitions pan out to improvements. I guess this is a limitation of a privacy focused approach to an assistant. I’ve never used Google’s assistant so I really can’t compare but Alexa can’t hear as good as Siri on my HomePods. 
    patchythepiratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 14
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,774member
    Rayz2016 said:
    elijahg said:
    Not to repeat myself here but let's hope this finally improves Siri... Though I unfortunately doubt it. 

    Latest Siri idiocy: "Hey Siri, remind me in 15 minutes to do x" "Ok, I've set a reminder for yesterday at nn:nn." Wtf? How in the hell have they managed to introduce a bug like that? Even more odd is that the reminder actually goes off at the correct time on other devices.

    Another one I've discovered is you can't add "thyme" to a shopping list. Siri just flat out doesn't understand that "thyme" doesn't always refer to "time" , no matter how you phrase it. So I've taken to saying "Add the herb thyme to my shopping list", which results in "the herb Thyme" listed instead... Not great. At all.

    Interesting. 

    Even though I find the phrasing “remind me in 15 minutes to do x” a bit odd, I gave it a bash and it worked fine. I usually say “remind me to do x in 15 minutes”, but Siri is happy with either. 

    I run into the second one occasionally. You can hit edit and one of the options will be “add thyme to the shopping list”, so it obviously knows what thyme is. What I find is that Siri will then add both entries to the list ߙ䮦amp;nbsp;

    The easiest thing to do is spell out the word:

    “Add t-h-y-m-e to shopping list”


    My somewhat clumsy way of asking is because I have learnt over time how to speak to Siri to produce the least errors... If I say "remind me to do x in 1 hour" and Siri doesn't quite hear properly, or sometimes even if it does, I end up with a reminder that literally says "do x in 1 hour" which then goes off 15 minutes later. There's (still) zero comprehension written into Siri, it literally sees "minutes" or "time" and assumes any number near that must be the variable to use as time, which is why it gets confused when it hears "thyme" and there is no number nearby. There are similar lack of comprehension issues around timers too, if you ask it to add n minutes to your for example 20 minute timer, it just sees a number in your command and sets that timer to n minutes. Which was really annoying the first time it happened.

    The transcription is usually impressively good, it rarely gets a word wrong, and that has had a notable improvement since they started using AI. But for some reason they don't seem to use AI in the comprehension, I guess that's a lot more difficult to do with Apple's computer generated AI training method than Google/Amazon's with actual customer data; though Apple does use actual customer data to some extent.

    I didn't know you could spell things out though so thanks for that!  :smile: 

    edited May 2020 flyingdppatchythepiratedysamoria
  • Reply 5 of 14
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    Siri needs to be drowned in a bathtub.
    flyingdpelijahgOferpatchythepirate
  • Reply 6 of 14
    jdb8167jdb8167 Posts: 626member
    elijahg said:

    Another one I've discovered is you can't add "thyme" to a shopping list. Siri just flat out doesn't understand that "thyme" doesn't always refer to "time" , no matter how you phrase it. So I've taken to saying "Add the herb thyme to my shopping list", which results in "the herb Thyme" listed instead... Not great. At all.
    Just tried it on my MacBook Pro and it worked perfectly. "Hey Siri, add thyme to my grocery list". Started as "time" but then changed to "thyme" once I said grocery. Haven't tried it on iOS/iPadOS since I don't have those in front of me. I've never seen the yesterday thing either. Very weird.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 14
    elijahg said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    elijahg said:
    Not to repeat myself here but let's hope this finally improves Siri... Though I unfortunately doubt it. 

    Latest Siri idiocy: "Hey Siri, remind me in 15 minutes to do x" "Ok, I've set a reminder for yesterday at nn:nn." Wtf? How in the hell have they managed to introduce a bug like that? Even more odd is that the reminder actually goes off at the correct time on other devices.

    Another one I've discovered is you can't add "thyme" to a shopping list. Siri just flat out doesn't understand that "thyme" doesn't always refer to "time" , no matter how you phrase it. So I've taken to saying "Add the herb thyme to my shopping list", which results in "the herb Thyme" listed instead... Not great. At all.

    Interesting. 

    Even though I find the phrasing “remind me in 15 minutes to do x” a bit odd, I gave it a bash and it worked fine. I usually say “remind me to do x in 15 minutes”, but Siri is happy with either. 

    I run into the second one occasionally. You can hit edit and one of the options will be “add thyme to the shopping list”, so it obviously knows what thyme is. What I find is that Siri will then add both entries to the list 🙄. 

    The easiest thing to do is spell out the word:

    “Add t-h-y-m-e to shopping list”


    My somewhat clumsy way of asking is because I have learnt over time what to say to Siri to produce the least errors... If I say "remind me to do x in 1 hour" and Siri doesn't quite hear properly, or sometimes even if it does, I end up with a reminder that literally says "do x in 1 hour" which then goes off 15 minutes later. There's (still) zero comprehension written into Siri, it literally sees "minutes" or "time" and assumes any number near that must be the variable to use as time, which is why it gets confused when it hears "thyme" and there is no number nearby. There are similar lack of comprehension issues around timers too, if you ask it to add n minutes to your for example 20 minute timer, it just sees a number in your command and sets that timer to n minutes. Which was really annoying the first time it happened.

    The transcription is usually impressively good, it rarely gets a word wrong, and that has had a notable improvement since they started using AI. But for some reason they don't seem to use AI in the comprehension, I guess that's a lot more difficult to do with Apple's computer generated AI training method than Google/Amazon's with actual customer data; though Apple does use actual customer data to some extent.

    I didn't know you could spell things out though so thanks for that!  :smile: 

    I don't get it.  You're saying that Siri understands the words you are saying but just doesn't set the appointment correctly?  I don't understand how that happens when your example works perfectly fine on my iPhone.

    (Although when Siri gives me the option to update the appointment and I say "cancel it" all it does is rename the reminder to "cancel it."
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 14
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,774member
    jdb8167 said:
    elijahg said:

    Another one I've discovered is you can't add "thyme" to a shopping list. Siri just flat out doesn't understand that "thyme" doesn't always refer to "time" , no matter how you phrase it. So I've taken to saying "Add the herb thyme to my shopping list", which results in "the herb Thyme" listed instead... Not great. At all.
    Just tried it on my MacBook Pro and it worked perfectly. "Hey Siri, add thyme to my grocery list". Started as "time" but then changed to "thyme" once I said grocery. Haven't tried it on iOS/iPadOS since I don't have those in front of me. I've never seen the yesterday thing either. Very weird.
    There does seem to be a few different "versions" of Siri, the Homepod one seems especially stupid. It worked about 50% of the time on my iMac, until i fixed "a time" to thyme, and now it's about 80%. But of course you can't do that on the HP.


    patchythepirate
  • Reply 9 of 14
    jdb8167 said:
    elijahg said:

    Another one I've discovered is you can't add "thyme" to a shopping list. Siri just flat out doesn't understand that "thyme" doesn't always refer to "time" , no matter how you phrase it. So I've taken to saying "Add the herb thyme to my shopping list", which results in "the herb Thyme" listed instead... Not great. At all.
    Just tried it on my MacBook Pro and it worked perfectly. "Hey Siri, add thyme to my grocery list". Started as "time" but then changed to "thyme" once I said grocery. Haven't tried it on iOS/iPadOS since I don't have those in front of me. I've never seen the yesterday thing either. Very weird.
    I don’t use Siri to add to a grocery list as the one I use is a bulleted list that is sorted by aisle for the grocery store I go to most often. However, like you, I just tried using Siri to add thyme to my grocery list and was successful. 



    elijahg said:
    jdb8167 said:
    elijahg said:

    Another one I've discovered is you can't add "thyme" to a shopping list. Siri just flat out doesn't understand that "thyme" doesn't always refer to "time" , no matter how you phrase it. So I've taken to saying "Add the herb thyme to my shopping list", which results in "the herb Thyme" listed instead... Not great. At all.
    Just tried it on my MacBook Pro and it worked perfectly. "Hey Siri, add thyme to my grocery list". Started as "time" but then changed to "thyme" once I said grocery. Haven't tried it on iOS/iPadOS since I don't have those in front of me. I've never seen the yesterday thing either. Very weird.
    There does seem to be a few different "versions" of Siri, the Homepod one seems especially stupid. It worked about 50% of the time on my iMac, until i fixed "a time" to thyme, and now it's about 80%. But of course you can't do that on the HP.


    After letting Siri create a Grocery list for me (on my iPad) I attempted to use my HomePod. I said, “Hey Siri, add thyme to my grocery list.” Siri replied, “OK, I added thyme to your grocery list.” I went back to my iPad, opened the newly created Grocery list and now have two items that say “Thyme”.

    Another Edit: I noticed you use “shopping list” instead of “grocery list” and I thought perhaps that was where the issue lies. I asked Siri (again, on my iPad) to add thyme to my shopping list. I received the same response as the one I got when I asked for “grocery list” above and “thyme” was spelled correctly.

    I’ve said this before but what I find most bewildering about Siri is how different people can make the exact same request and get different results. A couple of years ago, I believe it was @SpamSandwich posted a screenshot of a Siri fail where the question was who starred in a particular movie, asked on an iPhone. The result was not what was expected. When I asked Siri on my phone using the exact same language as was in the screenshot the answer provided was a spot on. I was shown a movie poster for the movie, maybe the running time and Tomato Rating and the beginning of the cast while Siri spoke the names of the people who starred in it. I don’t get it.
    edited May 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 14
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,422member
    My expectations for what I can do with Siri are very low, and it rarely fails to exceed my expectations. Asking Siri to play a song, relay weather predictions, or other really simple things seems to work most of the time. What more should I expect from an algorithm - meaningful and insightful conversation? The "time" vs "thyme" thing is a red herring edge case. There are millions more of these edge cases to explore.

    If you exposed any relatively intelligent agent, meat based or silicon based, to the hideously convoluted English language, whether spoken in its infinitely varying dialects and accents, or its confusing written form, and expected it to make sense of it in most cases, you've set yourself for bitter disappointment. If you bring context or meaning into the equation, then you're heading into a pit of disappointment from which there is no escape. Is Alexa much better? Maybe a little, but not by much. It's an algorithm, with a probabilistic distribution that defines how well it matches your query, which probably means it's going to be wrong a lot of the time.

    What the heck, when I'm watching TV with allegedly English (sort-of) speaking people portrayed I frequently find myself wishing for closed captioning to convert whatever it is they're saying to words that I can read. And no, I'm not picking on any region of the country or native vs non-native speakers. Languages are just so damn messy and the fuzzy logic needs to be deeply fuzzy, especially when it comes to English, which has like 6 real, hard and fast rules and about 280 million "special cases and exceptions." 

    Maybe we shouldn't be trying to talk to machines any more. Perhaps we should start off by talking to other people, in a meaningful way perhaps. Once we figure that out, maybe we apply what we've learned from our people-to-people communication and connection "experiments" to the task of programming stupid machines to emulate some of what we've learned about communication. Between now and then, if we simply treat these algorithms more as games with a pseudorandom win-lose probability, like scratch-off lottery tickets, perhaps we'll all learn to be happier. Or maybe we just learn their language.
    Oferfastasleep
  • Reply 11 of 14
    OferOfer Posts: 247unconfirmed, member
    The sad thing is, when Apple first released Siri, it was mocked by other companies as nothing more than a toy. And now Google and Amazon have both surpassed Siri in many real-use cases.
    elijahgpatchythepiratelkrupp
  • Reply 12 of 14
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    When are these acquisitions going to actually demonstrate an improvement in Siri?

    I experienced the “add 20 minutes to my timer” request turning it into a 20-minute timer. I’ve also repeatedly experienced endless mistakenly chosen words, whether I emphasize certain key phonemes or not, and there’s just zero context sensitivity.

    The reason it sucks is that none of this is AI. It’s all just scripting and algorithms. That’s not intelligence. No one really knows what intelligence is on a mechanical level, so we cannot recreate it. I watch my girlfriend using the Google version and it’s just as stupid.

    That’s what we really have: artificial stupidity. The more they try to dress it up with human-like attributes, the more the uncanny valley effect shines spotlights on its failure to BE intelligence.

    From this industry, with the pathology of “perpetual growth”, and disinterest in actually investing in pure research (and companies like Apple throwing away existing research and previously learned knowledge, such as with UI and human interface design), incompetence is really all that should be expected from big business... and big business stands in the way of small business, because it’s all about acquiring or destroying any competition.

    There was a stark difference between “before iPhone 1” and “after iPhone 1”, but we won’t see that kind of dramatic change again in this industry for a very long time. Certainly not with MBA-mindset leadership. When it’s only about the share prices, the products inevitably suffer, and Apple’s well-established corporate culture of self-imposed isolation just makes it all the worse.
  • Reply 13 of 14
    mr lizardmr lizard Posts: 354member
    jdb8167 said:
    elijahg said:

    Another one I've discovered is you can't add "thyme" to a shopping list. Siri just flat out doesn't understand that "thyme" doesn't always refer to "time" , no matter how you phrase it. So I've taken to saying "Add the herb thyme to my shopping list", which results in "the herb Thyme" listed instead... Not great. At all.
    Just tried it on my MacBook Pro and it worked perfectly. "Hey Siri, add thyme to my grocery list". Started as "time" but then changed to "thyme" once I said grocery. Haven't tried it on iOS/iPadOS since I don't have those in front of me. I've never seen the yesterday thing either. Very weird.
    Quite. One of the most frustrating things about Siri is its inconsistent errors, which makes it hard to adapt and work around them. 
  • Reply 14 of 14
    Hi Guys, It’s definitely time to make an upgrade for Siri because it’s functionality remains very limited and after last update I have no idea what happened but it became quite hard to communicate with vs Cortana and OK Google. When saying Hey Siri I receive either Aggga Or Ege... Mgg what’s that? Fully confuses before posing a question and to be honest sounds very arrogant. At the end providing with a limited up to 5 referrals to answer the question. I hope for update cause it didn’t progress almost at all.
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