Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
AI Businesses Cloud

Voice Is the Next Big Platform, But Amazon Already Owns It (backchannel.com) 229

Six million homes already have an Amazon device with it Alexa voice assistant -- about 5% of all households. But Backchannel argues that Amazon is already dominating the race to become the operating system for future voice-activated devices, with Forrester tech analyst James McQuivey pointing out that "having microphones in your environment is a lot more convenient than pulling out your phone." The Alexa-enabled Echo is a true unicorn, one of those rare products that arrives every few years and fundamentally changes the way we live... After years of false starts, voice interface will finally creep into the mainstream as more people purchase voice-enabled speakers and other gadgets, and as the tech that powers voice starts to improve.
Despite competition from Google Home, and a rumored "Home Hub" from Microsoft, Amazon "has a two-year jump on its competition, having first introduced the Echo speaker in November 2014," notes the article, adding that Amazon also "opened its platform early to third-party developers." (Alexa now has more than 5,000 "skills".) They argue that Amazon is already winning the war of the operating systems by familiarizing consumers with "a new computing interface -- a voice devoid of a screen -- that will eventually grow to be more ubiquitous and more useful than our smartphones... Soon, you'll speak your wants into the air -- anywhere -- and a woman's warm voice with a mid-Atlantic accent will talk back to you, ready to fulfill your commands."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Voice Is the Next Big Platform, But Amazon Already Owns It

Comments Filter:
  • Hmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 25, 2016 @04:52AM (#53551059)

    While in general I like the idea of a woman fulfilling my every command, I'm not sure it's worth it if she's constantly keeping tabs on me.

  • I hate using touch screens !
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 25, 2016 @04:55AM (#53551067)

    Some remote server listening in on everything I say, filtering every word, analyzing each sentence, etc.

    Say one wrong thing, and the appropriate authorities are automatically informed and dispatched automatically. Tax evasion? IRS shows up at your door. Diesel fuel and fertilizer? FBI. Feel like killing your manager who's been driving you nuts all week? Local police.

    Sign me up.

    I don't understand why none of this stuff operates locally. It's always some remote server in the cloud. I remember having IBM ViaVoice (back then I think it was called "Voice Type Dictation" or "SimplySpeaking") on my goddam Pentium 75mhz computer. After about an hour of training, it would nail mostly everything I said. I find it incredibly difficult to believe that we don't have the hardware resources necessary to perform local speech-to-text and text processing inside your house without ever touching the internet.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 25, 2016 @05:57AM (#53551193)

      It is always listening (if you do not turn the mic off), it does notify you when it accesses the cloud service and... it does process locally for its activation word. Its supposedly not always streaming your voice to the cloud (since you'd wind up noticing that on your internet usage anyways). Processing voice isn't the problem, its the decision engine behind there that figures out what you wanted from the words input and then serves it up to you. On your device, this would be painfully slow, since it does require an AI of its own. So... stream voice to cloud, use eleventy-bajillion processors to do it all and the device is dumb and therefor cheap on the customer end. All the Echo, Dot, Siri, Cortana really do is record, stream, and playback your data... that's called an MP3 player and should be as cheap as one. That should be your complaint, that these things cost more than 20 bucks when they are the definition of a dumb terminal.

      From https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?pop-up=1&nodeId=201602230#Question10

      "Amazon Echo and Echo Dot FAQs
      Amazon Echo and Echo Dot are far-field Alexa-enabled devices.

      1. How do Amazon Echo and Echo Dot recognize the wake word?

      Amazon Echo and Echo Dot use on-device keyword spotting to detect the wake word. When these devices detect the wake word, they stream audio to the Cloud, including a fraction of a second of audio before the wake word.

      2. How do I know when Amazon Echo or Echo Dot are streaming my voice to the Cloud?

      When Amazon Echo or Echo Dot detect the wake word, when you press the action button on top of the devices, or when you press and hold your remote's microphone button, the light ring around the top of your Amazon Echo turns blue, to indicate that Amazon Echo is streaming audio to the Cloud. When you use the wake word, the audio stream includes a fraction of a second of audio before the wake word, and closes once your question or request has been processed. Within Sounds settings in the Alexa App (Settings > [Your Device Name] > Sounds), you can enable a 'wake up sound,' a short audible tone that plays after the wake word is recognized to indicate that the device is streaming audio. You can also enable an 'end of request sound' that will play a short audible tone at the end of your request, to indicate that the connection has closed and the device is no longer streaming audio.

      3. Can I turn off the microphone on Amazon Echo and Echo Dot?

      Yes, you can turn Amazon Echo or Echo Dot's microphone off by pushing the microphone on/off button on the top of your device. When the microphone on/off button turns red, the microphone is off. The device will not respond to the wake word, nor respond to the action button, until you reactivate the microphone by pushing the microphone on/off button again. Even when the device’s microphone is off, Amazon Echo or Echo Dot will still respond to requests you make through your remote."

      All that aside, yes they could change this with a firmware update and you'd never know. And that would be why I will not be buying or using one. To find out they did it i'd have to commit a federal felony (thanks DMCA!)

      • That should be your complaint, that these things cost more than 20 bucks when they are the definition of a dumb terminal.

        You're not just paying for the dumb terminal, you're paying for access to the mainframe for the life of the device. Not a great pricing model, but it's not the only device that depends on the company not just abandoning a device you've already paid for.

      • And that would be why I will not be buying or using one.

        I don't know about you, but most people are already carrying a device with these exact capabilities (except it generally has much more powerful hardware):

        The smartphone.

        o Microphone
        o High powered multicore CPU
        o Always-on connection to the net

        Yep, check, check, and check.

        But wait, there's more!

        o Video camera
        o Redundant location hardware (GPS and tower-triangulation)
        o Motion sensors
        o Significant on-board storage capacity for offline buffering
        o Already k

    • by Calydor ( 739835 )

      My family and I have often joked about, "If someone only has the audio of what's going on ..." when we're getting really sarcastic against each other.

      This kind of surveillance would be troublesome, and reminds me a bit of a joke from a decade ago about the FBI, NSA or whoever it was monitoring WoW voice chats and freaking out over lines such as, "We're going to need a few more priests if we're going to raid the citadel." and so on.

    • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Sunday December 25, 2016 @07:41AM (#53551377)

      "I don't understand why none of this stuff operates locally. "

      It's the fault of the couple of dozen missing IBM Watson type computers in your basement.

    • by dhaen ( 892570 )
      I wonder how people who grew up in the DDR (former East Germany) feel about this. The Stasi would have loved this tool!
    • I can understand that, on a mobile device, you might want to conserve battery by moving all of the processing elsewhere, but it really doesn't make sense for something like Alexa. I'd love to have something like this in my house with all of the processing done locally in a sandboxed process, but there's no way I'm putting an internet-connected microphone in my living room.
    • Your phone has this hardware. Try saying ok Google and asking her how far something is away?

    • by Sqreater ( 895148 ) on Sunday December 25, 2016 @11:12AM (#53551827)
      This battle has already been lost. Cameras are everywhere and growing in number. Everything you do or say on the internet is parsed now. Your data is stolen on a regular basis. I've had Amazon Echo since the beginning and it is integrating itself into my life skill by skill. What's the weather? What's my commute time? What's on my calendar? Put this on my calendar. Buy this; buy that. (I have a mountain of TP sent by just telling her to buy it since it is already on my list, for example) Music. Lights control. Heat and air. And more skills are coming. She learns things using AI. When it comes to my car I'll have it even better. Put down that crank mentality and get a car with a starter.
    • Scaling things up (Score:4, Informative)

      by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Sunday December 25, 2016 @11:14AM (#53551839) Homepage

      I don't understand why none of this stuff operates locally. It's always some remote server in the cloud. I remember having IBM ViaVoice (back then I think it was called "Voice Type Dictation" or "SimplySpeaking") on my goddam Pentium 75mhz computer. After about an hour of training, it would nail mostly everything I said. I find it incredibly difficult to believe that we don't have the hardware resources necessary to perform local speech-to-text and text processing inside your house without ever touching the internet.

      The problems are scaling it up and the finer small details.

      Regarding speech :

      Modern offline text-to-speech technology is able to handle about 95% accuracy. (Being able to feed back based on past context to tell which homophone makes more sense, etc.)
      - Which is damn cool already (it's only 1 in 20 words that need to be fixed ! Fucking impressive !!!)
      - And is pretty useful to dictate toughs for those people who speak faster than they type (i.e.: most random joe six-pack outside /. and especially outside of steno communities), they can mostly speak what they want and only fix here and there (only a single word every 20. Or about a word every 2-3 sentences).
      - But that's completely useless on the scale of things which are required for Siri- / Alexa- / Cortana- / Whatever- type of constant speech flux of commands. The point is to completely do away with keyboard and mouse. Not to have to pull out a keyboard (or pull out your smartphone out of your pocket) to correct every third sentence you speak to your home assistant.

      The only practical application would be speaking in robotic rigid sentences. "Military-type radio speak" rigidity
      (Strict word ordering: "[name], [order: [verb] [noun] ]". Fixed protocols : AI should ack what it understood and ask for confirmation "[user], you ask me to [verb] the [noun] ?", and user should confirm/correct "Yes do it [=fixed sentence] / No [=fixed sentence], [followed by new order]")
      That is the kind of speech protocol that leaves very few ambiguity and risks of error (that's why it's used by military, law enforcement, catastrophe responders, or simply people working outdoor with very noisy radio conditions - ski teacher of a club spread accross mountains in my personnal experience).
      That could work nearly flawlessly with modern tech.
      But it is very far from the "having a casual discussion with your assistant" experience that most companies are wanting to sell.

      To reach that level of fluent conversation, current experience shows (100% fully autonomous real-time text subtitling, 100% fully autonomous real-time translation, etc.) that you needs several orders magnitude more accuracy (think 99.9% accuracy. Only one missed word every thousand. Or in practice an error every day or so). And due to the law of diminishing returns, that means fuck-tons more of processing power. Several data-centers worth of processing in your basement.
      (Don't believe me ? Look at youtube auto-generated subtitles. And Google certainly throws more processing power at them than simply a desktop computer).

      And all the above is only about *parsing* the speech (i.e.: getting the speech-to-text accurate enough). Then you need to make *sense* out of the speech.

      Again, with modern technology, making the system react to a bunch of preset command is trivial (the kind where you write a plug-in to get new commands supported) and could probably be handled on raspberry pi.
      But again the things that these companies are trying to sell to random users are much more complex : "Having a natural conversation with your assistant".

      That require three things :
      - tons more of processing (good bye, raspberry pi)
      - tons more of reference data (much more than a few commands that the user has custom pre-configured)
      - fuck ton of data gathering... (recording every command spoken by every user)
      - ...coupled with analysis of reject / mis-interpreted command... (most probably by huma

      • Mouse clicks, soft keyboard presses, and screen touches are required for nefarious reasons around the home, still.

        "Alexa, got to Literotica and read me a story about mother-son sex."

        "Alexa, play 'Debbie does Dallas' on the TV."

        "Alexa, call my mistress so we can have voice sex."

        Silence is golden.

    • I don't understand

      You should get that written on a shirt.

      why none of this stuff operates locally. It's always some remote server in the cloud. I remember having IBM ViaVoice (back then I think it was called "Voice Type Dictation" or "SimplySpeaking")

      The ability to dictate words and understand them in context is what separates your Pentium 75 from the multimillion dollar IBM Watson. But since you think it can be solved more easily I'm sure the worlds top AI researchers would like to hear from you.

    • No remote server is listening to anything you say until the local device hears the key word.

      Glad to hear you spent an hour training your 75Mhz Pentium to recognize your voice, but that's why voice recognition never took off. Alexa requires zero training and that's why millions of people use it.

    • I find it incredibly difficult to believe that we don't have the hardware resources necessary to perform local speech-to-text and text processing inside your house without ever touching the internet.

      We do, feel free to use Pocket Sphinx [sourceforge.net] or Julius [julius.osdn.jp].

      Jasper [github.io] will let you use multiple backends including the 2 above plus Google and AT&T.

      Some remote server listening in on everything I say, filtering every word, analyzing each sentence, etc.

      Why not just assume the NSA is always listening unless you take steps to avoid it? NSA is more than welcome to listen to my son's requests for Kids Bop and how many timers I set in the Kitchen. It's also not that difficult to get out of range of Alexa or go offline.

      Planning a terrorist attack? Go to a college bar. Good luck getting any SST to work in there. Or outside, or

    • Yeah, obviously we do have the hardware needed for running voice recognition locally. Maybe sending the voice data to the "cloud" allows for more precise recognition. Anyway, I bet that's not why that's done. You and I know that the game nowadays is to get all data you can get from the user to build a profile of them to send them ads and generally get money off the user/user data.
      It's everywhere nowadays and more often than not, you can't opt out making me hate many modern services. Yeah, I understand I ca
    • Except for much of the world this is already happening. Siri already listens much of the time. Cortona does as well.
  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Sunday December 25, 2016 @05:08AM (#53551089)

    Six million Alexa installs... compared to?

    A billion Apple devices with Siri... http://www.theverge.com/2016/1... [theverge.com]

    Uh, who owns it again?

    • I came here to say exactly this. Those 5,000 Alexa "skills" are going to be ported over to Siri in 3, 2, 1...

      • Sit in your chair in the living room and say Hey Siri and let us know how well your phone in the other room responds ...

      • by EvilSS ( 557649 )

        I came here to say exactly this. Those 5,000 Alexa "skills" are going to be ported over to Siri in 3, 2, 1...

        eh, not really. At least not for home automation anytime soon. Apple HomeKit is kind of a pain in the ass. Yes, they require extra security which is always nice, but integrating stuff into it is a huge headache. Alexa is about 1000x easier to deal with.

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      Different market. If your have to wake your phone up first, it's not voice activation. Time will tell if this new market goes beyond the hobby/enthusiast crowd, but for now the home automation geeks are going nuts for Alexa. Yes, the same crowd that sees no problem with internet-controlled light bulbs.

      IMO, some killer app will emerge in the next couple of years to make it mainstream. The potential laziness-enablement of voice activation is just too high for it not to.

      • by afgam28 ( 48611 )

        Different market. If your have to wake your phone up first, it's not voice activation.

        Not sure how Siri works, but on certain Android devices (ones with low-power speech processing hardware) Google Now can be triggered by saying "OK Google" without having to wake your phone up first.

      • so what's the problem with internet-activated lightbulbs? so some fucker could theoretically remotely switch off my lights? big deal. attack an epileptic? they are not that fast. analyze the light patterns and determine whether i'm not at homr and just running an anti-burglar sequence instead of switching the lights on by hand? not going to happen (there are easier & more low-tech methods). but having an online-store or ad-seller listen in on everyone of my conversations? thanks, i'll pass. (and wait f
    • by GNious ( 953874 )

      Didn't the summary point this out? People don't want to pull their phones out to talk to them ....

      • by TroII ( 4484479 )

        At any household I've been at with any regularity, everyone's phone is already out, and either in its owner's hands or sitting right next to them. It would probably take more effort to have "Alexa" hear you from across the room/house than it would to talk to your phone. Granted my sample size is only about 5, but this doesn't strike me as abnormal behavior these days.

    • Siri is just a frontend, like talking to your comcast/directv/dish box, she is just there to ingest your pcm data and then ship it off to nuance or rovi servers. Thats where the real magic happens turning that pcm in text and returning context and intent data as json/xml formats which is then easily parsed by any device. The majority of companies offering any sort of voice type service run through one of these companies

    • Siri has a different purpose. It's not about dictation or basic searching. It's not about a phone or a personal device. It's about a generic home assistan, a device in the house, a device that forms a hub to your smart home. Siri at present had a different purpose.

    • So just as Yahoo once owned the search space and MySpace the sweet spot now occupied by Zuckerberg, Amazon already "owns" the voice operated OS space? Incidentally the 5% figure looks mighty suspicious, is this the global stats or just the "American" figures? Is owning the American market (Apple) the same as owning the global market (Android)?

  • by No Longer an AC ( 4611353 ) on Sunday December 25, 2016 @06:23AM (#53551247)

    I have no desire to talk to my devices and I definitely don't want them listening to me either.

    I spent about 5 minutes playing with Okay Google on my phone and it wasn't very good and about 6 months later it finally responded to some music I was listening to and I realized I had never turned it off.

    And it really pisses me off when I am going through some voice prompt system and I can't just press a number for my response - it insists on a voice response. No, we don't speak the same language and your voice recognition system sucks.

    I also was very resistant to using a mouse and I also keep a pen and note paper in my desk.

    I was wrong about mice I guess - they are actually useful.

    But I see know use in these Alexa thingies. I could see getting a sarcastic parody device though. "Hey, Alexis, what's the weather like today?"

    "Look out the window, you moron! It's December. It's probably cold. Either that or it's very cold. It might even be snowing!"

    Just thinking of some of the commercials I've seen....

    1) Alexa, turn off the lights. Okay, haven't we had this technology ever since the Clapper was a thing? Clap On! Clap Off!

    2) Alexa, order more tape. Okay, right - like I order so much tape that Alexa knows what brand I buy, what kind I need and I'm not even concerned at all about the price because of course I'm going to get it from Amazon.

    3) Alexa, what's the weather like in Miami? If I really cared, I could easily look that up on the internet.

    This doesn't even pass the "Wow factor" test let alone the "do I need or even want it?" test.

    And I'd be willing to bet that within 5 minutes of getting one I'd be going all Samuel Jackson on it. "English, motherfucker. Do you speak it?"

    "Say 'what' one more time! I dare you!"

    • by thomst ( 1640045 )
      Mod parent "+1 Funny" (okay, "+1 Insightful" would also be appropriate - but the Pulp Fiction ending had me in stitches) ...
  • by jbn-o ( 555068 ) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Sunday December 25, 2016 @06:24AM (#53551249) Homepage

    Soon, you'll speak your wants into the air -- anywhere -- and a woman's warm voice with a mid-Atlantic accent will talk back to you...

    (read in a woman's warm voice with a mid-Atlantic accent) ...and your computer will listen to everything in mic range. No need for that activity light on the mic/camera; it was operated by proprietary (read: always untrustworthy) software to begin with, and wasn't present on trackers (a more honest name for the devices also known as cell phones, mobile phones). You'll come to expect omnipresent listening, ostensibly waiting for you to give the command to signal that the computer should do something for you so you feel like you're in control. But in reality your computer has been doing something for so many proprietors all along—letting an uncountable number of parties spy on you. Because you brought these devices and services into your home, your car, and your workplace. Revel in the convenience of never really knowing if you're alone.

    And don't worry: they're not spying on you for your safety. The spying "feature" works on your tracker, your home computers, and various needlessly Internet-enabled devices like your next refrigerator, a child's toy, a lightbulb socket, and more.

    • by sconeu ( 64226 )

      Hell, it was even in TFS!!!!

      having microphones in your environment is a lot more convenient than pulling out your phone.

      I'm sure that the NSA wholeheartedly agrees with this.

  • Now, I'm a person given to sudden outburst. When I drop something heavy on my foot, or knock over something, I'll normally shout "F*ck me!".

    I suspect that would be problematical in a voice activated environment and wound not lead to matrimonial harmony.

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Especially if you also have a highly impressionable robot. The consequences could be quite serious.

    • I don't care how many times you've seen Cherry 2000, don't ever ever marry robots, cyborgs, or androids.

      • I'd argue they are better than women. Don't dump you when you run out of cash, but rather might come up w/ ways to raise new cash
  • "Six million homes already have an Amazon device with it Alexa voice assistant -- about 5% of all households." Surely there are more than 120 million households in the world?
    • For USAians, including US based companies, the USA is the world. I'm used to that already, being a non-USAian.

      • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

        Yeah, but you probably have healthcare. So there's that.

        • Indeed. You're totally correct there.

          Also it may be hard to believe and go against popular opinion especially in that part of the world, but trust me, when you actually need it, it's really nice to have. Unfortunately I have direct personal experience with the matter...

  • Stasi (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 25, 2016 @08:37AM (#53551477)

    I live in Berlin. When I explain voice platforms to people, I roughly say: "in former times, they came into your flat, installed mics and even fixed the wallpaper whenever cabling was necessary. When you were back in, all was done and clean. *All costs where taken up by the state*".

    These days you gotta pay for it. And you gotta fix the cabling mess yourself. Now tell me Socialism was worse!

  • Oh please (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Sunday December 25, 2016 @08:50AM (#53551511) Journal

    Google won.

    Google knows where I live, work, where airport is if I travel, what flight I am, when restaurants in my area close etc.

    All the geeks in my IT department say OK Google when does X close? Or OK Google how far is X when looking at traffic while we drive. Amazon already lost and I see no value in such a device. Our phones know all the information based on habits and can even track traffic

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Sunday December 25, 2016 @09:57AM (#53551677)

    ... a rumored "Home Hub" from Microsoft ...

    Microsoft is still trying to live in its halcyon days when it seemed Microsoft could kill competition's products just by announcing that they had a similar product in beta.

    .
    If it weren't for Microsoft's stranglehold on corporate computing, Microsoft would have been a footnote by now...

    • Has anyone even tried Cortana? It sounded cool and useful according to the hype until I tried it. So far Google Now is not advertised and the only thing as close to Star Treks LCARS where it can actually do useful things like tell me when a restaurant closes or give traffic updates or when my next flight is while I am driving. Google Now **actually useful **

    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      You know, in this day & age, I trust Microsoft more than I trust Google or Amazon. It's very simple: Microsoft has significant revenue streams other than selling your personal data. Amazon and Google don't.
  • "Despite competition from Google Home, and a rumored "Home Hub" from Microsoft, Amazon "has a two-year jump on its competition..." That isn't the issue at all...not at all. Google and Microsoft have both satisfactorily established that they are pederasts, here to sell YOU to their buddies for profit. Anyone who trusts them in their home alone with the kids is short a few marbles and will be shorter more than marbles in the years ahead. Amazon and Apple are the only two remaining major technical players
  • by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Sunday December 25, 2016 @11:41AM (#53551911)

    Apart from the fact that both Amazon Echo and Google Home are Internet-connected listening devices, they just don't work very well. Recognition is still quite imperfect, there is no notion of a dialog or context with these devices, and extensibility and interoperability is at the whim and business convenience of the companies making these devices.

    Speech recognition and AI should function be local, not cloud-based; they shouldn't be tied to one or the other "ecosystem", and they should be locally extensible. And they need to work better than the overpriced, underperforming, bloated gadgets Google and Amazong are shipping. A company that delivers that may "own" voice. Right now, Amazon owns the voice market in the same way Chiapet owns the pet market: its product is related to the real market in name only.

  • "having microphones in your environment is a lot more convenient than pulling out your phone."

    I'm sure the NSA/CIA/FBI would agree wholeheartedly.

  • by BlueCoder ( 223005 ) on Sunday December 25, 2016 @12:30PM (#53552041)

    Voice won't come to the home until there is a hybrid system between home and industry. One where most of the voice processing is in the home as well as the "A.I." that will decide how to interpret what you said. The home system will understand the "gist" and consult corporate systems depending upon your "privacy" settings.

  • We've seen this before. Not Alexa, but the paranoia that new tech brings.

    When telephones began to intrude into ordinary homes there was panic. My father was an insurance salesman (think 'Death of a Salesman') and had to install a telephone so customers could reach him. I clearly remember being at the dinner table when the phone would ring. Everyone froze in place, fork halfway to mouth. Dad would nod his head toward Mom, indicating that she should get it. Mom indicated 'No way! That's your customer.' - both

  • I never oder anything from Amazon. Or maybe once or twice per decade.

    I also don't really listen to music (or anything else) at home. I enjoy the silence, after being inundated by sounds and voices all day around at work.

    And I certainly don't want everything I say being transmitted to a server at some place and having it influence the products I get presented on my next visit to that web-page (or other web-pages, via ads and cookies).

    People whose lives literally revolve around shopping online or offline shou

  • This is a technology that people think they want when it is science fiction but as soon it is actually real no one cares.

    • Actually, no. Putting touchscreens in cars is the stupidest innovation imaginable, the driver is _required_ to look at the screen to use a touch screen. Putting voice recognition in cars makes a LOT more sense, and in 5 years voice recognition will have replaced touch screens for automotive applications. Whether or not you want an easily hackable, always listening, internet connected device in your home is another issue. A lot or people already have privacy worries about internet connected devices with micr
  • You may recall some of the ploys used by Captain Kirk when dealing with a wayward computer. Mr. Spock found his approach puzzling. Basically, Kirk would ask the computer a question that had no logical reply. (darn, I can't think of one at the moment, but how 'bout "Everything I say is a lie..." followed by "I love you!", etc.) At any rate, the computer would stutter confusedly and always end in a satisfying cloud of smoke.

    An excellent question to ask Alexa would be "Why does the porridge bird lay his egg in

    • The only one I remember was asking the computer to compute PI to the last digit at highest priority, which effectively tied up all computer resources and didn't allow it to do anything else. The best Spock computer joke I every saw was in The Voyage Home, where Spock is doing a test answering questions on several terminals simultaneously and is suddenly confronted with the only question that stumps him: "How do you feel?" I was rolling in the aisles laughing when I first saw that in a theater, but for some
  • IMO, Amazon "owns" the market the same way Palm, and then Microsoft, owned the PDA segment back then, or Blackberry for smartphones: they had it all, didn't make it good enough to be mainstream, and then Apple came and in 24 hours it was over for the other 2.

    Amazon very well might keep its lead, but someone who does it better faster could come and steal it all.

    • Although Google Home is very transparently a ripoff of Alexa, I'd also point out that Google is quickly catching up, and I just gave away my Amazon Echo in favor of several (cheaper) Google Home devices. Big selling point: Amazon tried to make money from the git-go on Amazon Prime, whereas Google gives away 6 months of YouTube Red with every Google Home. I'm still not clear on what happens to the thousands of songs I uploaded to Amazon Music or Google Music when I stop paying for the subscription...
  • Gee, people, this is obvious. The IoT is all about funneling all your stuff into someone else's domain. You don't have your own because we don't really have IPV6 yet, which is in part because the artificial scarcity of IPV4 addresses is a profit center for many, and a bridge a troll can sit under and charge passage fees for. Which could be your personal info (readily converted to $) or just plain rent (pay or your house quits working) down the road. XYZZY "as a service" is a wet dream for many big busin
    • I agree in part; the biggest problem I see with many home automation systems is they are built around routing all requests through a server in the cloud instead of handling things locally. In other words, they are inserting huge delays and failure modes into the system in an attempt to achieve vendor lock=in. Routing everything to the net and back add no value to the customer, it just makes it slower. Voice recognition is an exception to this, server farms are better at parsing human speech than any hardwar
      • I happen to have worked on numerous speech recog projects. While it's true that for "random speakers and connected speech", for a single speaker or just a fw on which you could train a little (get them to read a known story, or give you corrections to what your program thought it heard) - a single machine, in the pentium II days was enough to handle about 4 speakers in real time. We did this with a mod from IBM's viaVoice for transcribing doctor's notes way back when, and it worked great. In fact, in a w
  • it's mostly not the early bird that catches the worm in the tch-world. besides, amazon (or google) is not the type of company, people trust to listen to their conversations 24/7
  • Leaving alone the privacy concerns with always on, internet connected, internet flash updateable devices with microphones in your home, does anybody see a downside with setting a non-owner voice trained voice recognition device down next you you television that is constantly airing, "Alexa, buy me expensive hardware!" commercials illustrating how easy it is to buy stuff using just your voice? What about if I drive around we a PA system instructing Alexa and Google Home to buy stuff? Remember all the prank s
  • Anyone remember Galaxy Quest, where there was a running joke that Sigourney Weaver's only job was to repeat questions to the computer, then repeat back to the crews whatever the computer's response was? I just watched a TED talk that suggested that was the most valuable position on the ship, that in the future our pay will be based on how well we interact with powerful AI that will be running everything. 100 years ago being able to work well with a horse was important, in 20 years being able to work well wi

Remember Darwin; building a better mousetrap merely results in smarter mice.

Working...