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Google Working On Siri Competitor Majel

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the what-are-you-doing-gene dept.

Android 360

judgecorp writes "Google is working on a competitor to Apple's Siri voice input system. It's an extension to its existing Voice Actions offering with a name that should ring bells. Majel is named after Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, who was the voice of most of the Star Trek on-board computers, as well as playing Nurse Christine Chapel in the first series and being Gene Roddenberry's wife."

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360 comments

Google versus Apple (4, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437054)

This signifies so many of the core differences between Google and Apple. Apple intentionally implemented "attitude" in the character of Siri to make it more endearing and friendly, while Google dismisses that idea and tries to make theirs into an emotion-less Star Trek computer, even naming it after the actress who voiced it. Many of the insider remarks on this project are talking about how it's intended to be like the Star Trek computer, even addressing it as "computer." Often times, I think Google is way too engineering-driven and quite simply doesn't get humans.

Voice recognition is driven by feedback, and Apple has a huge headstart with Siri because it's already out now in beta form, and so Apple has access to real-world usage data. By the time Majel comes out, Siri will be even more advanced and will have been shaped by its users. It will be interesting to see how Google competes.

Re:Google versus Apple (5, Insightful)

WPIDalamar (122110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437132)

Google has less real world usage?

Matching a search with useful information is kind of what google does best. For voice recognition, they've been doing voice-search on Android for a long time, plus their now defunct goog-411 and that's a lot of voice recognition experience.

Siri/Majel is really just a UI layer on top of those two things.

Google may be behind in the integration, but they're probably way ahead in those two things.

Re:Google versus Apple (0, Redundant)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437276)

Google has less real world usage?

Real world usage of voice recognition at the level of Siri? Yes. Here's an article by an ex-IBM researcher [benoitmaison.org] who worked on voice recognition for six years explaining why Siri was released in beta form in the first place. The saying in the community is "there is no data like more data." Engineers at Apple can see all the things people are asking Siri, the queries it doesn't recognize, and so on, and they can use that valuable feedback to tweak the system. Infamous gaps in Siri's functionality, like the "abortion clinic" question, will be fixed at release.

Google certainly had voice recognition features before, but they weren't much used, nor were they on the level of Siri.

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38437530)

Youtube.

You what? (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437612)

Youtube

Or they could just rent a bunch of DVD's if they wanted lots of audio streams of people randomly talking. How much is the 100k plan on Netflix anyway?

Now if you want audio streams from millions of real world sources attempting to ask for information on real world devices with real world background noises and accents added in, there I am afraid YouTube gives you no canoe, paddle or even a creek.

The current and more limited voice control stuff might help them to some degree (IF they kept the raw audio from requests) but people have to use it in a more stilted manner to work so it will not provide many examples which help with parsing natural speech.

Re:You what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38437810)

You're only talking about the voice recognition aspect of majel though. =)

Re:Google versus Apple (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437554)

Google has tons of data from which to trawl for edge cases. What precisely did you think that the Google Voice transcription service was all about? People let Google transcribe their voicemails by algorithm and Google gets more data. I doubt very much they even bother looking at messages which aren't reported to them as inaccurate.

So, I'd venture to guess that they're actually a lot more used than Siri is. I have a hard time believing that Siri is so used that it's been used more in 4 months than Google Voice in a couple years.

As for sophistication, Google's implementation might be significantly less sophisticated, but it does work reliably, Siri from what I've heard, not so much.

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437856)

Google has tons of data from which to trawl for edge cases. What precisely did you think that the Google Voice transcription service was all about? People let Google transcribe their voicemails by algorithm and Google gets more data. I doubt very much they even bother looking at messages which aren't reported to them as inaccurate.

Do you realize how many more people are using Siri compared to how many let Google transcribe their voicemails? Do you really think that's a widely-used Google feature?

So, I'd venture to guess that they're actually a lot more used than Siri is. I have a hard time believing that Siri is so used that it's been used more in 4 months than Google Voice in a couple years.

Siri's current system is based on the data from the third-party Siri app that Apple purchased, so the core technology is older than four months.

As for sophistication, Google's implementation might be significantly less sophisticated, but it does work reliably, Siri from what I've heard, not so much.

Well, Siri is in limited beta, and by the time Majel comes out, Siri will almost certainly be significantly more reliable. That leaves the core differences in presentation, and Google insiders have been claiming that they are intentionally not including any of Siri's human-like personality attributes. It's really going to be an inhuman query machine and not as fun because of it. That's why I said it signifies everything about the difference between Google's and Apple's approaches to usability. Google is so strictly engineering-driven that they often don't get what it is people like. There's no design instinct, no human touch. Like typical engineers, everything they do must be based on data, such as the infamous survey on 41 shades of blue [zeldman.com] just to decide on an interface color.

Re:Google versus Apple (3, Interesting)

P-niiice (1703362) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437910)

Google Voice integration is pretty widespread - most of Sprint android users pretty much use it so, yeah, it's widely used.

Re:Google versus Apple (2)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437580)

Since it's sent through the internet, google probably already has all the queries on a back server somewhere, and are probably already running analysis on it. I mean come on it's google. They own the internet don't they, for all intents and purposes?

Re:Google versus Apple (-1, Troll)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437892)

There's a big difference between standard search engine queries and the things people ask voice recognition software. Simply owning a search engine doesn't mean you're going to be awesome at understanding human language and delivering results accordingly. That comes through trial-and-error, which is why Apple has a headstart here.

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437688)

Google has less real world usage?

Real world usage of voice recognition at the level of Siri? Yes. Here's an article by an ex-IBM researcher [benoitmaison.org] who worked on voice recognition for six years explaining why Siri was released in beta form in the first place. The saying in the community is "there is no data like more data." Engineers at Apple can see all the things people are asking Siri, the queries it doesn't recognize, and so on, and they can use that valuable feedback to tweak the system. Infamous gaps in Siri's functionality, like the "abortion clinic" question, will be fixed at release.

Google certainly had voice recognition features before, but they weren't much used, nor were they on the level of Siri.

Don't forget "From now on, I will call you 'An Ambulance', OK?"... Hilarious sense of humor that she has, I imagine if I were in that situation my iPhone 4S would be headed out the nearest window at light speed.

http://thingsthatsirisays.com/uncategorized/call-me-an-ambulance-fail/ [thingsthatsirisays.com]

Re:Google versus Apple (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38437330)

I love how Slashdot works. Anything that defends Google/Android from detractors gets instant +5. Hello? Google has nothing on the level of Siri or you'd already be using it in Android! Few use Google's voice recognition because it sucks! Even Windows XP had voice recognition, and Vista's voice recognition infamously sucked [youtube.com]. Simply having the feature earlier doesn't mean it's ahead in quality.

Re:Google versus Apple (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437624)

Google's voice recognition works, if it doesn't get it right it tends to recognize it and pop down a list of possibilities.

From what I've heard about Siri, it trades accuracy for sophistication of ability and it isn't a good trade off. We'll see how things progress as it's only a 4 month old release, but still. There's some wisdom in limiting the features to what you can actually do than to overreach and come up with crap.

At the end of the day, voice recognition isn't really that useful except for people driving and possibly the blind. Most people view it as a gimmick. Personally, I'm not about to spend much time using it as when I'm out in public I'd rather not have people know what I'm searching for or whom I'm calling.

Re:Google versus Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38437404)

Matching a search with useful information is kind of what google used to do best.

FTFY

Re:Google versus Apple (4, Insightful)

mark_elf (2009518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437406)

Indeed, FTFA -

"Google, it is widely held, is Siri’s best challenger. The company has offered Google Voice Search on the iPhone and its Android devices since 2008, and that application has been expanded to cover 29 languages, supporting accents in 37 countries, including the Middle East."

Ouch.

So then why is Google working on anything? (2, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437496)

Google has less real world usage?

The implication of your question is that Google already has something like Siri out, and has for some time.

So then why is Google working on a Siri competitor?

Huh.

And of course in Siri stories many Android users just aid to get Vlingo. How is that helping Google again?

Re:So then why is Google working on anything? (5, Funny)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437778)

And of course in Siri stories many Android users just aid to get Vlingo.

Shouting your Slashdot posts into Siri is getting better, but still not all that good.

Re:Google versus Apple (5, Insightful)

TehDuffman (987864) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437138)

I like this approach personally. I think it is weird to treat the phone as a person. I would rather talk to my phone like it is a phone than a woman. (especially if i have to repeat myself :) )

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437218)

I would rather talk to my phone like it is a phone than a woman. (especially if i have to repeat myself :) )

Don't worry. She'll walk away quickly.

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437436)

Think about it. You're a techie posting on a techie site; you are already in the minority. Most people want to communicate with machines using human-like queries and do want to not address it as if they're an Enterprise crew member addressing the Star Trek computer. One is friendly and fun, the other is cold and emotionless. Between the two spectrums, which qualities do you think would be more appealing in a consumer electronics device?

I don't mean to say that Google couldn't create human-like voice recognition, but the insider remarks that have been posted on various Android sites have so far stated that Google is not implementing Siri's "funny" remarks, for example. That alone is so Apple-like. Based on past statements by Google (Marissa Meyer once criticized interfaces that looked like they were made by humans, instead favoring interfaces made by machines...), they just don't seem to get people. They definitely come off like an engineering company without the balance of human interface design. This was also the perception of Microsoft for many years, incidentally.

Re:Google versus Apple (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437550)

Have you actually done a survey on this, or is it just an assumption? In my experience, computer voice falls into the uncanny valley very quickly - people find computers that try to sound like humans to be creepy.

Re:Google versus Apple (5, Funny)

slim (1652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437760)

Have you actually done a survey on this, or is it just an assumption? In my experience, computer voice falls into the uncanny valley very quickly - people find computers that try to sound like humans to be creepy.

"Look Dave, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over. "

Re:Google versus Apple (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437708)

That's probably a much more mainstream feeling than you realize. People tend to get freaked out by the uncanny valley. Not to mention that if it sounds like a person then it is a person complete with all the downsides that entails. Most people just want the device to figure out what to do and get it done, adding emotions and jokes just muddies it up and increases the likelihood that the interaction will go wrong.

As a side note, what Google's doing is working, so I'm not really sure on what basis you're suggesting that they don't know what people want, they're wiping the floor with both MS and Apple as of late in that market.

Re:Google versus Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38437864)

Think about it. You're a techie posting on a techie site; you are already in the minority.

Yes, of course, the classic "I know you say that is what you want, but that is NOT what you want"... Wow are you channeling the ghost of Steve Jobs through some sort of iOuija board?

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437146)

We'll have to wait to see how it works, but I'm not sure even non-geeks always find "realistic" computers more natural to interact with than computer-ish computers. People are perfectly capable of anthropomorphizing non-human entities if they act in some consistent way, even if they don't exactly mimic human behavior. In fact it's often better to act in a clearly non-human way than to hit the uncanny-valley of sort-of-human.

Re:Google versus Apple (5, Insightful)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437886)

Agreed.

To amplify this 'uncanny-valley' notion. The problem with the anthropomorphizing ('attitude') approach is that it lulls the user into thinking they are dealing with a very sophisticated (sentient) system. This fiction quickly disappears once the user runs requests that the AI quite obviously doesn't understand. At that point, the quirky personality becomes annoying (think Clippy), and the fact that it pretends to be as smart as a human, without actually being as smart as a human, makes the interface seem broken and comically insufficient.

The opposite approach, also seen in robotics and many other areas of AI (e.g. search), is to not pretend that the system is like a person. Instead, make it obvious that it is a machine, with a set input/output behavior. Users can then quickly learn how to best use this machine to accomplish tasks. If the shortcomings of the system are evident, users will not be surprised by them and will instead build these into their mental model of how the system works.

As a case study, consider the similar criticisms that have been made about Wolfram-Alpha (e.g. here [blogspot.com]): essentially, W|A is a highly sophisticated set of computation and relation engines. However it's all wrapped up inside an overly simplistic UI (a single text-entry box, without any obvious way to refine what you mean). This leads to people getting all kinds of unintended results, despite the fact that the system actually can perform the computation/analysis/lookup the user wants. It's just that there is no obvious way to tell it what lookup you meant. The overly-simplified UI implies to the user that the system will just 'figure out what you mean', but the fact is it fails to do that very frequently; the user becomes frustrated because they then have to mentally reverse-engineer W|A's parsing logic, trying to build a query that returns the kind of results they want.

In short, it's better to design a UI that is an honest reflection of the sophistication/power of the underlying technology. To do otherwise creates a bad user experience, because user expectations are not meant by available functionality.

Re:Google versus Apple (2)

sobachatina (635055) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437148)

" I think Google is way too engineering-driven"

Which is exactly why, as an engineer, I always prefer Google products. This announcement has a cool factor that makes me interested even though it is just another voice recognition gimmick like Siri.

Re:Google versus Apple (2)

mark_elf (2009518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437320)

I have an iPhone, and my initial reaction to this was a jealousy I have not experienced before. It's a cool idea. I assume they cleared this with her estate, Paramount, etc., right? Anyway, it's not like you would just "be talking to an emotionless computer". That's a very shallow take on it.

Re:Google versus Apple (0)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437468)

Anyway, it's not like you would just "be talking to an emotionless computer". That's a very shallow take on it.

If you've read the many Android sites reporting on this, there are remarks from insiders stating that, for example, Google engineers are intentionally not giving the voice recognition a "character" (in other words, no funny remarks or human-like responses in the vein of Siri). It really will be like talking to a an emotionless computer that simply executes its given queries. That's all I was trying to say.

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437732)

What's more it's almost certainly going to have an API exposed for people to add the character if they so choose. One of the advantages of Android is that things like that generally are exposed so that App developers can work around such perceived shortcomings. And if not, there's always the source so they should be able to write their own API if need be.

Re:Google versus Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38437382)

objectively the perception of "coolness" is nothing but a malfunction in your logic circuits

Re:Google versus Apple (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38437156)

It's idiot fanboys like you that have ruined this website for legitimate discussion. Do you ever post a comment that actually adds to the discussion rather than some negative rant about how much you hate Google and love apple?

Re:Google versus Apple (-1, Offtopic)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437582)

To be honest, this site skews pro-Google and anti-Apple at nearly every opportunity. Once upon a time, you could get away with being one of the few contrarians making some good points about the competition--there even used to be rational Microsoft defenders--but you can't do that anymore without getting attacked by rabid Google/Android fanboys, who in my opinion have become the most annoying fanboys on the Internet. It feels as if many of the sane posters left for other tech communities like Reddit and Hacker News, and so Slashdot's remaining readership is becoming more extreme and closed-minded on average. I mean, it always had that streak, but it was balanced out by high-rated comments expressing opposing viewpoints. Now, I see troll comments get modded up all the time. Hell, I risk my karma just for posting this. You can barely even get pity moderation anymore just for making an unpopular but valid point.

Re:Google versus Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38437818)

The irony in your post is astounding. Do you suffer from multiple personality disorder?

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

Night64 (1175319) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437164)

Uncanny Valley comes to mind. I'm the only one to think that is a little bit creepy talk to a machine in the same manner I would talk to a person?

Re:Google versus Apple (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437240)

If we're going to go this route and talk to our devices this way, I'd prefer the HAL 9000 voice, myself.

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437602)

It's all in good fun. Seriously, Siri is just fun to use, and that's important in a gadget intended to be a part of your daily life. It's kind of like when Slashdotters in years past were criticizing Windows and OS X for having fading animations, translucency effects, and other visuals. Well, now Linux desktops have all that. Because it's fun and pleasant to use.

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437922)

I don't think there's an uncanny valley for spinning cubes. There probably is, however, for voice communications.

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437938)

It's all in good fun. Seriously, Siri is just fun to use, and that's important in a gadget intended to be a part of your daily life. It's kind of like when Slashdotters in years past were criticizing Windows and OS X for having fading animations, translucency effects, and other visuals. Well, now Linux desktops have all that. Because it's fun and pleasant to use.

"Your plastic pal who's fun to be with."

Did you really just go there?

Re:Google versus Apple (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38437208)

Clippy had attitude too, and was endearing and friendly...

Re:Google versus Apple (2, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437664)

Clippy was annoying because it popped up intrusively and was almost always unhelpful. This is voice recognition that responds only when you give it a query, and it really does do what it's supposed to most of the time. Not the same thing.

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437266)

I haven't spent money on an Apple product, but I'd consider it if Siri could be modded to react embarassingly to morally/sexually improper requests. I'd probably jumpo to give Apple some money if they let that happen. Heh.

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

Relayman (1068986) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437408)

I'd mod you down, but would rather comment: Why don't you check on the Internet to see how Siri does handle "morally/sexually improper requests"? People have been logging Siri commentary since she was introduced.

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

P-niiice (1703362) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437632)

You could recheck the internet right above your post and see that since Apple allows no mods to its products, my request is moot.

Re:Google versus Apple (4, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437308)

Many of the insider remarks on this project are talking about how it's intended to be like the Star Trek computer, even addressing it as "computer." Often times, I think Google is way too engineering-driven and quite simply doesn't get humans.

I don't need a hammer that gets me. I need one I can accurately use. Natural language is very imprecise, a set list of commands makes things more precise.

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437420)

I don't need a hammer that gets me. I need one I can accurately use. Natural language is very imprecise, a set list of commands makes things more precise.

I find this comment fascinating, and probably helps differentiate geek tools from mass-market tools. Most people prefer accuracy, but I think a lot of geeks really would prefer precision.

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

GNious (953874) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437322)

[...] Google [..] tries to make theirs into an emotion-less Star Trek computer, even naming it after the actress who voiced it.

Might be me, but give it the personality of Lwaxana Troi, and it will be anything BUT emotion-less.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lwaxana_Troi [wikipedia.org]

Re:Google versus Apple (0)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437700)

Do you really want that?

You: Where is the nearest pizza place?
Lwaxana Troi phone: The nearest one is 156 km away. How does that make you feel?

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437338)

Emotionless? Counselor's mother?

Anyway, probably is the engineering approach, first make it a bit safer from trivial exploits and potentially costly mistakes vs making it look smart and friendly when is not. Even looked natural for us that in the Enterprise they talked to it with a prefix to distinguish from the people around.

Anyway, the worrysome headstart is in the patents arena, even if talking to a computer is in science fiction and popular culture since beginning of last century, it will be a minefield for anyone trying to go near that direction.

Computers with attitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38437512)

See Daystrom M-5 Computer

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

spacepimp (664856) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437534)

Bonch admit you know nothing about anything except that your iPhone has Siri. Google has been working on Artificial intelligence since the beginning of the company. Google Voice and talk has given a huge base of sampling to interpret dialectics, speech patterns, Google books scanning has given the ability to parse natural languages of all cultures. The analytics and data mining engines on the back end of Google are incredibly adept at parsing queries. Their AI is able to pass the Turing tests 97% of the time. This is not Google trying to mimic siri (which simply uses Google and Wolfram alpha ) for response answers. This is a full effort to create Artificial Intelligence and natural query/response systems. If Google intended to be a search engine that was just like prior Information retrieval systems then Google would have failed. They understand the user needs and drivers way more than you dataset allows for.

Re:Google versus Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38437960)

It should be noted that Google Voice is terrible at interpreting speech. I can usually make out what the caller said by sounding out the gibberish in the transcription, but it's far from accurate.

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38437656)

You mean Stanford Research Institute, for whom Siri is named after, added the "attitude". All Apple did was buy it, KILL the cross platform support, and claim they invented it. It's fine business, but don't kid yourself into thinking Apple innovated a damned thing.

Re:Google versus Apple (2)

Dingb (2498420) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437724)

Clearly, you aren't aware that the computer on Star Trek also hosts a holographic representation of Professor Moriarty within it's processing cores. Who I am sure will be happy to direct me to the nearest abortion clinic of my choosing.

Everyone is missing it!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38437788)

Apple is creating emotional connection between user and a device. First touch then personal voice. People got connected to their laptops, touch devices are even more personal. Google is missing it. In 95 I could say "computer light on". It is almost 2012!

Re:Google versus Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38437796)

The whole point of google voice and google giving out millions of phone lines and voicemail transcription for free was so they would have the raw data they needed to improve their voice recognition technology.

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437904)

I'm surprised how well and by how much apple beat google to the market on this. I always thought google was the bigger more technologically advanced of the two, perhaps there is more revenue in it for Apple?

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437914)

My vote would make it more like some of the computers on Lexx. Every once in a while your phone would say things like "Stonent, that's a very delicious looking battery there, can I eat it?" Or like 790, the love-slave robot.

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

HotBBQ (714130) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437950)

Often times, I think Google is way too engineering-driven and quite simply doesn't get humans.

That sounds like a +1 to me. Humans are fickle meat bags. I want my services provided by a no nonsense automaton. One with a sexy voice, though. It makes my impending destruction at the hands of GoogleBots that much easier to bare.

Re:Google versus Apple (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437992)

On the contrary, that's precisely the right thing to do. When you make a program pretend that it's a person, people will treat it as such, and expect it to behave as such. Which, of course, simply isn't true for Siri outside of several thousand precanned "witty" responses - it is, after all, not an AI, just a glorified chat bot.

On the other hand, when you address the phone as "computer", you don't have high expectations about it being able to maintain a philosophical discussion - rather, you give orders that are straight and to the point. As it should be.

Excellent! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38437140)

Sounds awesome

Is it wrong.... (4, Funny)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437210)

... that the image that comes to mind involves Majel and Siri and a pit filled with mud?

Applaud the respect (4, Interesting)

AikonMGB (1013995) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437244)

I absolutely love the use of "Majel" here; Star Trek has influenced so much of our lives and of our tech, and now that are finally starting to get into responsive voice-operated systems, it shows a great deal of respect to bring it back to the original visionaries.

Aikon-

Here's a hint, Google (5, Funny)

zill (1690130) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437280)

Pssssst, Google. Use Morgan Freeman's voice. I promise you'll make trillions.

Re:Here's a hint, Google (3, Funny)

thestudio_bob (894258) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437594)

Samuel L. Jackson!

Me: Samuel, what's the best way to air transport serpentines?
Samuel: Enough is enough! I have had it with these monkey-fighting snakes on this Monday-to-Friday plane!

Re:Here's a hint, Google (2)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437742)

How about Samuel L. Jackson?

You: check for new email.
Phone: Enough is enough! I have had it with this motherfucking spam on this motherfucking email account!

Re:Here's a hint, Google (2)

wintercolby (1117427) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437876)

Use James Earl Jones' voice:

You: Call Dad Phone: I AM YOUR FATHER . . . . just kidding, dialing now.

It's a cute jab at apple (2, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437336)

The very name takes the wind out of the fan boys that will want to proclaim 'apple invented this, it was their idea'. Clever

Re:It's a cute jab at apple (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38437638)

The three basic opinions on this:

The tech world: "Well, fair is fair. Though this was done on phones and such before, Google really had one of the first major working voice-to-text implementations for limited commands AND search, then Apple improved the interface with Siri, and now Google is improving that to make it more engineering-based. No real problem."

The plebs outside the tech world: "WTF?!?!??!? Apple invented voice controls! They had all their advertisements about Siri on the iPhone and everything!!!!1! GOOGLE IS TEH EVULZ AND TEH COPAYCATZ ZOMG KILL"

Apple themselves: "Yes, we invented the concept of voice. Itself. Now, give us royalties."

Re:It's a cute jab at apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38437800)

Wow, and then Microsoft can name their as yet undeveloped version after someone even older, like Eve. Ultimate burn, Apple!

Majel - not the best choice for a name (1)

alispguru (72689) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437366)

The Star Trek universe has a strong Luddite streak when it comes to computers:

Original series - the episodes "Court Martial" and "The Ultimate Computer" (M5) spring to mind.

Next generation - the new Enterprise's computer was clearly not as smart as the old one. Despite his obvious success, Data-like androids never went into mass production (just run Data through a replicator).

Re:Majel - not the best choice for a name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38437532)

Yep, that never made sense. Data was impossible to reproduce (even by Data), even though his creator had produced two of him, and he could be perfectly disassembled and reassembled at a molecular level by a common transporter. By all rights, there should have been thousands of Data-like androids in existence.

Re:Majel - not the best choice for a name (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437944)

Yep, that never made sense. Data was impossible to reproduce (even by Data), even though his creator had produced two of him, and he could be perfectly disassembled and reassembled at a molecular level by a common transporter. By all rights, there should have been thousands of Data-like androids in existence.

Notice how the only time they ever used the transporter for replication (aka a "failure" that resulted in a copy of the thing being transported), it turned out AWFUL? Who is to say that Lore isn't the byproduct of a transporter accident? Why aren't important people "buffered" in the transporter in case they get killed in an away mission so they can just be resurrected video game style? Lots of things about it aren't obvious but at a point (way before any of these questions are asked, btw) you have to just say "that's the way it has to be"... Star Trek was a show about ONE possible future with significantly advanced technology, not EVERY possible future.

Re:Majel - not the best choice for a name (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437642)

IIRC, replicators have limited success in replicating particularly advanced materials (even though those same materials can be transported and replicators were based upon transporter technology). Besides some little helper bots that accidentally gained sentience, nobody in the Star Trek Universe besides Soong has had the capabilities of creating an android like Data, including Data (although he came quite close, he just couldn't build one that would stay functional). Also, between Lore's bad behavior and Data being recognised as a sentient being, there were a lot of ethical hurdles to further creation of androids.

I think it's probably more that limitations of computers are a necessity of the plot.

Show of hands ... (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437400)

Majel is named after Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, who was the voice of most of the Star Trek on-board computers, as well as playing Nurse Christine Chapel in the first series and being Gene Roddenberry's wife.

OK, anybody who didn't immediately think of Majel Barrett without being told who she was, please leave -- you're obviously in the wrong place. ;-)

I keed, I keed. Well, mostly.

Already out, Called Iris (Siri backwards) (2)

Wingfat (911988) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437472)

Works wonderfully in Alpha test, and now in Beta it is even better. It mainly pulls data from Wiki, but will also voice dial, check appoinments, Find movie times, voice actived texting! woo hoo! and much more.. and the things it doesnt know will come back with a funny answer and not the i'll google that for you response that Siri does.

copycat company (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38437474)

It's clear which company is the innovator and which is the copycat:

Apple: "We are redefining the smartphone. This is the new iPhone".

Google: "Me too! I can make one that looks just like that."

Apple: "We're creating Siri, a practical voice controlled AI with a personality."

Google: "Me too! Only without the personality! But yeah, us too, we're doing voice control too! Lookee!"

Seriously, google - do your own thing, don't just copy Apple over and over. It makes you look bad.

Re:copycat company (1)

Grave (8234) | more than 2 years ago | (#38438018)

Apple didn't create Siri - they bought the tech. Google has been doing this same basic thing, just with different syntax/polish since before Apple.

The only copying here is Apple copying Star Trek. Google chose this code name precisely because it was Star Trek and Sci Fi in general that inspired the bulk of modern technologies we use. If Apple decides to throw a fit and sues Google (or more likely, HTC/Samsung/Etc), Google will throw Star Trek as prior art.

To complete my geek glee... (1)

eegad (588763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437570)

they need to figure out a way to synthesize Majel Barrett's voice based on current samples so that the Majel interface can respond with her voice.

Just ask Watson (1)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437828)

Maybe Google could just buy a Watson cluster and route all the questions to it. But let me get this straight, we'll be getting Star Trek technology in our phones (at least on Verizon) containing names licensed from the Star Wars creator?

What I really want to see... (3, Funny)

nickdc (1444247) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437838)

Does anyone else have the urge to place siri and majel side by side in hopes of reproducing a cleverbot conversation?

this will never catch on (1)

Cyko_01 (1092499) | more than 2 years ago | (#38437866)

No matter how well it works, unless you are inspector gadget, you will still look like a dork talking TO your phone - "go go gadget android!"
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