Apple's former Siri chief says today's digital assistants still have a long way to go before they can really understand us

Apple's former Siri chief says today's digital assistants still have a long way to go before they can really understand us


If you've been paying any attention to the announcements Apple and Google made during their recent developers conferences, you probably already know that big improvements are coming to Siri and the Google Assistant.

During its Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month, Apple announced that Siri will be getting a more natural voice that's generated entirely by software when its iOS 13 update for iPhones launches later this year. Google said in May that its digital assistant will be able to understand and process requests up to 10 times faster, and Amazon recently launched a new version of its Alexa-powered Echo Show.

Although digital assistants like Apple's Siri, the Google Assistant, and Amazon's Alexa have advanced quickly in recent years, they still have a long way to go says Bill Stasior, who recently departed Apple to join genetic diagnostics and therapy development firmAvellino Labs as a member of its executive advisory committee. Stasior joined Apple in 2012 and led the team responsible for Siri's development until he left the company in May.

Today's virtual helpers can do everything from starting up the coffee machine after your morning alarm goes off to making reservations at your favorite restaurant. But the biggest way they're likely to improve over the next three to five years is simple: they'll get better at understanding the way we speak.

"In my opinion, none of the virtual assistants really deliver on the promise of eventually being able to understand people as naturally as other people can understand them," Stasior said in a recent interview with Business Insider. "I think everyone learns what commands work with the assistants and what commands don't work with the assistants. And while that's improving very rapidly right now, I think there's still a long way to go." Read more




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