Representation & Reasoning: AI-Alerts

Infographic: The rise of voice search


Up until recently, when users wanted to search for something online, they would need to type their queries into a search engine such as Google or Yahoo. However, the development of voice search technology means that users can now simply speak their query aloud into a device such as a smart speaker (e.g. the Google Home) or an AI-powered virtual assistant (e.g. the Amazon Alexa) and receive a verbal answer to that query. ComScore predicts that voice search will account for half of all online searches by the year 2020. So, what exactly is the appeal of this technology for users? Vocal search is changing how people search for things online so you will have to adapt your approach to keyword research accordingly.

'Alexa, are you invading my privacy?' – the dark side of our voice assistants

The Guardian

One day in 2017, Alexa went rogue. When Martin Josephson, who lives in London, came home from work, he heard his Amazon Echo Dot voice assistant spitting out fragmentary commands, seemingly based on his previous interactions with the device. It appeared to be regurgitating requests to book train tickets for journeys he had already taken and to record TV shows that he had already watched. Josephson had not said the wake word – "Alexa" – to activate it and nothing he said would stop it. It was, he says, "Kafkaesque". This was especially interesting because Josephson (not his real name) was a former Amazon employee.

Generalized earthquake frequency–magnitude distribution described by asymmetric Laplace mixture modelling


The complete part of the earthquake frequency–magnitude distribution, above the completeness magnitude mc, is well described by the Gutenberg–Richter law. On the other hand, incomplete data does not follow any specific law, since the shape of the frequency–magnitude distribution below max(mc) is function of mc heterogeneities that depend on the seismic network spatiotemporal configuration. This paper attempts to solve this problem by presenting an asymmetric Laplace mixture model, defined as the weighted sum of Laplace (or double exponential) distribution components of constant mc, where the inverse scale parameter of the exponential function is the detection parameter κ below mc, and the Gutenberg–Richter β-value above mc. Using a variant of the Expectation-Maximization algorithm, the mixture model confirms the ontology proposed by Mignan [2012,], The performance of the proposed mixture model is analysed, with encouraging results obtained in simulations and in eight real earthquake catalogues that represent different seismic network spatial configurations.

Multi-Device Digital Assistance

Communications of the ACM

The use of multiple digital devices to support people's daily activities has long been discussed.11 Multi-device experiences (MDXs) spanning multiple devices simultaneously are viable for many individuals. Each device has unique strengths in aspects such as display, compute, portability, sensing, communications, and input. Despite the potential to utilize the portfolio of devices at their disposal, people typically use just one device per task; meaning they may need to make compromises in the tasks they attempt or may underperform at the task at hand. It also means the support that digital assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Microsoft Cortana can offer is limited to what is possible on the current device.

BBC to launch Alexa rival that will grasp regional accents


The BBC is preparing to launch a rival to Amazon's Alexa called Beeb, with a pledge that it will understand British accents. The voice assistant, which has been created by an in-house BBC team, will be launched next year, with a focus on enabling people to find their favourite programmes and interact with online services. While some US-developed products have struggled to understand strong regional accents, the BBC will this week ask staff in offices around the UK to record their voices and make sure the software understands them. The BBC currently has no plans to launch a standalone physical product such as Amazon's Echo speaker or a Google Home device. Instead, the Beeb software will be built into the BBC's website, its iPlayer app on smart TVs, and made available to manufacturers who want to incorporate the public broadcaster's software.

Hey Siri, Google and Alexa — enough with the snooping

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Hey, Google, enough is enough already. Google was caught having contractors listening in to our conversations from its personal assistant, which sounds bad until you realize Google wasn't alone in this. Apple and Facebook were doing the same thing. And this week, Microsoft got stung by Vice's Motherboard, and now admits it, too, listens. The companies, which also include Amazon, have said they do this on a limited basis to learn and make their assistants better.

Apple and Spotify may finally start playing nice--with Siri at least

Fast Company

The two companies have butted heads for years, and it's likely they'll continue to do so--Spotify's protest web page (in which Spotify details accusations that Apple engages in anticompetitive behavior) is just one example of hurt feelings. But despite the mutual dislike, Apple and Spotify are reportedly in talks to integrate Spotify more tightly with Siri, Apple's digital assistant. The companies are "discussing a plan" that would let iPhone users ask Siri to play music with Spotify, instead of requiring them to manually navigate to whatever song, album, or playlist they want to hear via the third-party app. The Information's report on this handy potential change cites three anonymous sources who are "familiar with the discussions." Neither company confirmed the report when contacted by Fast Company.

Has Tinder lost its spark?

The Guardian

On paper, it's a great time to be on a dating app. In the seven years since Tinder's entrance on to the dating scene in 2012, it has gone from fringe novelty to romantic ubiquity; within two years of launching, it was seeing 1bn swipes a day. Other apps have similarly impressive stats: in 2018, Bumble's global brand director revealed it had more than 26 million users and a confirmed 20,000 marriages. It's a far cry from the considerably less optimistic response Tinder received when it launched. Many hailed it as the end of romance itself.

Cutting the cord with Vizio's new V436 TV

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

When it comes to pure, cutting the cord TVs, Amazon's Fire TV Edition paved new ground in 2018. It was low-priced and aimed at folks who were happy ditching cable, plugging in an antenna and using the set to watch Internet programming. Vizio's new V436-61, just out, goes even further. It does all of that, and more. Instead of just being able to use voice commands via the Amazon Alexa assistant, Vizio lets you use Apple's Siri and the Google Assistant as well.