The race for ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence

Tech gi­ants are bat­tling over who will de­velop the smartest soft­ware to de­ploy in cut­ting edge prod­ucts

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By GLENN CHAPMAN in San Fran­cisco Agence France-Presse

Ma­jor tech­nol­ogy firms are rac­ing to in­fuse smart­phones and other internet-linked de­vices with soft­ware smarts that help them think like peo­ple.

The ef­fort is seen as an evo­lu­tion in com­put­ing that al­lows users to in­ter­act with ma­chines in nat­u­ral con­ver­sa­tion style, telling de­vices to tend to tasks such as or­der­ing goods, check­ing traf­fic, mak­ing restau­rant reser­va­tions or search­ing for in­for­ma­tion.

The ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) com­po­nent in these pro­grams aims to make cre­ate a world in which ev­ery­one can have a vir­tual aide that gets to know them bet­ter with each in­ter­ac­tion.

Here are some avail­able:

Google

Google is mak­ing a high-pro­file push into AI, with the internet ti­tan’s chief re­fer­ring to it as a force for change as pow­er­ful as pow­er­ful as smart­phones.

Google As­sis­tant soft­ware is be­ing built into new Pixel hand­sets — aim­ing to outdo Ap­ple’s Siri — en­abling users to or­ga­nize and use in­for­ma­tion on the de­vices and in the cloud— to check emails, stay up to date on cal­en­dar ap­point­ments, news or ask for traf­fic and weather data.

Google also of­fers AI through its Allo mes­sag­ing ap­pli­ca­tion which can be in­stalled on smart­phones, and its Google Home hub, a stand­alone de­vice sim­i­lar to Ama­zon’s Echo which re­sponds to voice com­mands to manage tasks and fetch in­for­ma­tion where peo­ple live.

Sam­sung

of the of­fer­ings

The South Korean elec­tron­ics gi­ant moved to jump-start its AI ef­forts by pur­chas­ing theUS startup Viv Labs, launched by the cre­ators of Ap­ple’s Siri.

Sam­sung says the ac­qui­si­tion an­nounced this month is part of its ef­fort o pro­vide AI-based voice as­sis­tance ser­vices its cus­tomers can use across all Sam­sung de­vices and prod­ucts, from smart­phones to tele­vi­sions to wash­ing ma­chines.

Sam­sung is world’s lead­ing­maker of smart­phones pow­ered by Google’s free An­droid soft­ware, but also has its own Tizen mo­bile op­er­at­ing sys­tem, so how it may field its own vir­tual as­sis­tant tech­nol­ogy re­mains to be seen.

Ama­zon

Ama­zon in 2014 un­veiled its Echo home as­sis­tant, a voice-ac­ti­vated speaker, pow­ered by its “Alexa” ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence pro­gram.

Users can ask for news or in­for­ma­tion up­dates, as well as or­der­ing goods from the on­line re­tail gi­ant.

Echo also serves as a con­nect­ed­home hub which can con­trol com­pat­i­ble ap­pli­ances, light bulbs and other de­vices.

Since in­tro­duc­ing Echo, Ama­zon has launched a smaller ver­sion called “Dot” and in­te­grated Alexa into its Fire TV de­vices.

Mi­crosoft

Mi­crosoft’s per­sonal as­sis­tant uses the name Cor­tana and is avail­able on Win­dows de­vices and its Xbox con­sole and as an ap­pli­ca­tion on Ap­ple iOS and An­droid de­vices.

Un­veiled in 2014, Cor­tana — a name based on a char­ac­ter in its block­buster game “Halo” -re­sponds to con­ver­sa­tion­ally spo­ken re­quests or com­mands, us­ing in­sights gleaned from cal­en­dars, con­tact lists, on­line searches and other smart­phone sources to re­spond in a man­ner akin to a re­al­life aide.

Face­book

Face­book, heav­ily in­vest­ing in ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, is widely be­lieved to be work­ing on a per­sonal as­sis­tant with the code name “M.”

The so­cial net­work’s founder Mark Zucker­berg has said he wants to cre­ate a real-life ver­sion of “Jarvis,” the as­sis­tant in the as­sis­tant in the Marvel Comics se­ries “Iron Man.”

For now, Face­book is en­abling AI-pow­ered “bots” on it­sMes­sen­ger mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion that al­lows users to get an­swers to ques­tions and en­gage in text ex­changes as though chat­ting with the so­cial net­work it­self.

Ap­ple

Ap­ple was the first to of­fer its per­sonal as­sis­tant, in­tro­duc­ing Siri for the iPhone in 2011, and has been work­ing to im­prove it over the years. Re­cently, Siri was up­graded to in­ter­act with non-Ap­ple ap­pli­ca­tions, so users can book a ride with Lyft or make pay­ments us­ing Square Cash.

Ap­ple has also in­tro­duced a Home ap­pli­ca­tion that can con­nect with smart ap­pli­ances and other de­vices, and is re­port­edly work­ing on a stand-alone speaker sim­i­lar to Ama­zon Echo and Google Home.

IBM

Tech­nol­ogy stal­wart IBM made head­lines nearly 20 years ago with “Deep Blue” soft­ware that beat world chess cham­pion Garry Kas­parov at his own game, and more re­cently with “Wat­son” ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence that tri­umphed over top hu­man play­ers in a Jeop­ardy tele­vi­sion game show.

IBM has put Wat­son to work mak­ing busi­ness sys­tems and ser­vices smarter with data and cus­tomers. Thou­sands of peo­ple are ex­pected to at­tend a World of Wat­son con­fer­ence later this month in Las Ve­gas.

LUKE MACGREGOR / GETTY IMAGES

An “Echo” de­vice, cen­ter, stands on dis­play in a set of shelves dur­ing the UK launch event for the Ama­zon.com Inc.

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