“Siri was created like a slightly deaf old grandpa”: the co-creator of the voice assistant at a conference in Nice

Bad baptism. If in 1956, artificial intelligence sounded like the promise of all possibilities, in 2022 the mirror to the larks split. AI cannot do everything, but it can already do a lot: it must be seen as a toolbox. This is explained by Luc Julia on Saturday December 10 in Nice. Co-creator of Siri, the current scientific director at Renault demystifies the subject.

We reassure everyone: AI will not supplant the human species.

Indeed. We invent it. A radiologist is not going to be replaced by an RN. But he will be able to use it to sort through his radios, for example.

We must not forget that AI is what we decided…

Let’s take the metaphor of the hammer: it drives the nails very well, better than with a fist. But I can also use it to bang my neighbor’s head. The question is: am I using the tool for good or bad? The response must be collective. Because whatever happens, we are the ones holding the handle.

How do you know that the datasets are fair and not manipulated?

We must start from the principle that they are false by definition. With machine learning and deep learning requiring huge amounts of data, it is nearly impossible to verify them. The datasets are definitely biased. It requires testing and seeing if anything weird is going on. It’s our job to constantly question ourselves.

A Google employee was fired for claiming that the company’s AI had a conscience: what do you think of anthropomorphization?

First of all, this employee was crazy, like a sectarian drift. Then anthropomorphism is just as interesting as it is dangerous. We must not pretend that the AI ​​can be a real person like all of us. However, using this quality in the service of patients with Alzheimer’s can be a line of study. Nothing is all black or all white: you have to educate yourself, understand and make collective decisions.

There is no regulation, ethical and moral framework today?

There is no such thing. We will have to go through regulation, through laws. It always comes after innovation. People who make proposals in this direction, particularly at European level. We can hope that by 2030 something will happen.

Regulation should also take an interest in the environmental impact of data centres, etc.

What is annoying in information technologies is that we do not realize the ecological impact. Thousands of kilowatts are needed for these data centers to operate. You have to realize that 60% of the energy is used to cool the machines that heat up between them! Some have spoken of putting them at the North Pole or in the sea… There are plenty of such aberrations.

Like what?

Bitcoin. For one bitcoin transaction, Visa completes one million transactions. It’s not efficient, but it worked for some people. You can be blinded by innovation when you’re an engineer. I’m not saying that I’ve never been stupid, but you have to be responsible and question the interest and impact of what you create.

You left Apple without being able to upgrade Siri.

The Siri that we released in 2011 had five services. Today he has seven. Siri was Steve Jobs’ baby, but he died the day the voice assistant was released. His successors, I’m not talking about Tim Cook, are anti-Siri. They made no effort to achieve the expected scale. That’s why we left. Today Alexa has largely exceeded Siri: it offers 100,000 services.

Siri’s Sense of Humor Reveals a Technical Limitation in Reality

When we started working on it in 1990, we didn’t want to lie. Recognizing the words was much easier than their meaning! So we created Siri as a slightly deaf and not very clever old grandpa. The type to answer off the mark sometimes and to make little jokes! It was also a message for us as an engineer: no, this tool is not perfect. Telling the truth in science allows us to move forward.

Siri’s jokes make it endearing too!

And we come back to anthropomorphism yes! People have fallen very hard into this by cutting themselves off from the world to discuss with him. While he has absolutely no conversation. The frontier is fine in this area, you have to be vigilant. Especially with the metaverse and “asocial” networks.

We wish to give thanks to the author of this short article for this incredible web content

“Siri was created like a slightly deaf old grandpa”: the co-creator of the voice assistant at a conference in Nice


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