How Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant Lost the Artificial Intelligence Race

Apple officials presented the fifth iteration of the iPhone to a crowded auditorium on a soggy Tuesday in San Francisco. The public was eager to react on the new feature of the phone, which otherwise had the same appearance as the previous model: Siri, a virtual assistant.

When Scott Forstall was still Apple’s chief software officer, he asked queries of Siri by pressing a button on his iPhone. In response to his request, Siri checked the time in Paris (8:16 pm), explained what “mitosis” was (a cell division process in which the nucleus is divided into nuclei with the same number of chromosomes), and produced a list of 14 highly regarded Greek eateries, five of which were in Palo Alto, California.

Forstall says, “I’ve worked in the subject of artificial intelligence for a long time, and this still amazes me.

Those were twelve years ago. Since then, no one has been unaffected by Siri or other AI-powered assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. Speaking assistants have become the punchline of jokes while technology has mostly stalled, as seen in a “Saturday Night Live” skit from 2018 that featured a smart speaker for elderly people.

The chatbots, a new breed of virtual helper, have the tech industry buzzing.

These AI-powered chatbots, like ChatGPT and the brand-new ChatGPT Plus from the San Francisco-based company OpenAI, can improvise answers to questions put into a chat window with lightning speed. ChatGPT has been utilized by individuals to do difficult jobs like software development, business proposal writing, and fiction writing.

Moreover, ChatGPT, which use artificial intelligence to predict the phrase that will come next, is quickly advancing. I couldn’t write a haiku a few months ago, but now he enjoys doing it. GPT-4, the next-generation artificial intelligence engine that powers ChatGPT, was revealed by OpenAI on Tuesday.

The rise of ChatGPT and the decline of participants

The euphoria surrounding chatbots demonstrates how voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, and others, which once inspired a similar level of enthusiasm, have wasted their advantage in the race against artificial intelligence.

Products have faced difficulties throughout the last ten years. According to John Burkey, a former Apple programmer who worked on the assistant, Siri encountered technical issues, such as clumsy code that required weeks to update with simple functionality.

According to former employees, Amazon and Google invested in areas with voice assistant technology that rarely paid off because they misjudged how people would use them. Companies’ excitement for the technology allegedly decreased once those efforts were unsuccessful.

In a recent interview with The Financial Times, Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, declared that voice assistants were “stupid as a rock” and that the future belonged to the newest forms of artificial intelligence. In addition to investing $13 billion in the startup and integrating its technology into the Bing search engine and other products, Microsoft has closely partnered with OpenAI.

What will Google and Apple do with their assistants?

Apple declined to offer a Siri remark. In addition to developing a chatbot by the name of Bard, Google pledged to provide users with a fantastic virtual assistant for their phones, homes, and cars. In the past year, Alexa’s global customer involvement increased by 30%, according to Amazon, and he was upbeat about his goal of creating a superior artificial intelligence.

Chatbots and assistants are both based on various forms of artificial intelligence. Large linguistic models, or LLMs, are computer programs that have been trained to identify and produce text and are used by chatbots. from vast data sets retrieved from the internet. After that, they can offer words to finish a phrase.

Instead, command and control systems are essentially what Siri, Amazon, and Google Assistant are. They are capable of comprehending a limited number of inquiries and orders, such as “What’s the weather like in New York?” and “Turn on the lights in the bedroom.” The virtual assistant will merely claim it is unable to assist if a user requests something that is not permitted by its programming.

According to Mr. Burkey, who was assigned the task of enhancing Siri in 2014, Siri also had a complicated design that made it time-consuming to add new functions. The names of musicians and places like restaurants are among the enormous list of terms in Siri’s database, which is available in over two dozen different languages.

He described it as “a gigantic snowball” as a result. She continued, “It’s going to wind up in a big heap if someone wants to add a term to Siri’s database.”

Burkey explained that even improvements that seem straightforward, like adding a few new phrases to the data set, would necessitate rebuilding the entire database, which could take up to six weeks. Adding more complicated features might take over a year, such as new search capabilities. She explained that this meant Siri couldn’t develop into a versatile assistant like ChatGPT.

Although Alexa and the Google Assistant were built using technology similar to Siri, former Amazon and Google managers said that the businesses had difficulty making a profit from the assistants. (Instead, Apple employed Siri effectively to draw customers to its iPhones.)

Amazon’s Alexa



A more example of the most well-known virtual assistants ever. Shutterstock images

According to a former Amazon executive engaged with Alexa, when the company introduced the Echo, an Alexa-powered smart speaker, in 2014, it believed the gadget would help it boost sales in its online shop by enabling customers to speak to Alexa to place orders.

Yet, he continued, few individuals requested Alexa to place orders, even though they enjoyed experimenting with her capacity to set alarms and respond to weather prompts.

According to the former executive, Amazon may have spent too much money developing novel pieces of hardware that were being sold for cost or less, such as the now-discontinued Alexa-enabled microwaves and alarm clocks.

According to the source, the business made only modest investments in developing an environment that would enable users to quickly expand Alexa’s functionalities, much like Apple had done with the App Store, which boosted interest in the iPhone.

Contrary to the smooth process of installing mobile apps from app stores, customers found it challenging to locate and set up speaker skills, despite Amazon providing a store of “skills”For Alexa to operate third-party devices like light switches.

Carolina Milanesi, a consumer technology researcher from the research firm Creative Strategies and a consultant to Amazon, claims that “we never had that App Store moment” for attendance.

The Amazon division responsible for Alexa was one of the main targets of the company’s 18,000 layoffs as of late last year, and numerous key Alexa executives have left the organization.

Alexa is far more than just a voice assistant, according to Amazon spokesperson Kinley Pearsall, and “We are as optimistic about that mission as ever.”

According to a former executive who worked on Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa bugs may have misled Google. In order to emulate what Alexa could do, Google developers spent years experimenting with their assistant. This included creating voice-activated smart speakers and tablet displays to manage household appliances like thermostats and light switches.

Eventually, the corporation added advertisements to those domestic goods, but these did not significantly increase the company’s revenue.

According to the former manager, Google eventually concluded that the majority of consumers only utilized the voice assistant for a small number of straightforward activities, such as setting timers and playing music.

When Google executive Prabhakar Raghavan took over Google Assistant in 2020, his team refocused the virtual assistant as a standout feature for Android smartphones.

The team developing operating systems for home devices lost 16% of its engineers in January when Google’s parent firm let go 12,000 employees.

Several of the major tech firms are currently scrambling to respond to ChatGPT. According to two people briefed on the initiative, Apple conducted its annual Artificial Intelligence Symposium at its offices last month as a way for staff members to learn more about the company’s fantastic language model and other AI capabilities.

According to the sources, many developers, including those on the Siri team, have been trying language generating ideas on a weekly basis.

Google also said on Tuesday that Generative AI tools would soon be available to help organizations, organizations, and software developers create apps with integrated chatbots and integrate the underlying technology into their systems.

Experts in artificial intelligence predict that voice assistants and chatbots will eventually merge into one technology. As a result, users of Apple, Amazon, and Google products will be able to ask virtual assistants for assistance with tasks related to their work rather than merely routine ones like checking the weather.

According to Aravind Srinivas, CEO of AI start-up Perplexity, which provides a chatbot-powered search engine, “These solutions never functioned in the past because we never had human-level interaction capabilities. “Now we have,”

By Editor

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