Cortana


Engadget is testing all the major AI assistants

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Hardly a day goes by that we don't cover virtual assistants. If it's not news about Siri, there's some new development with Alexa, or Cortana or Google Assistant. For one week, we asked five Engadget reporters to live with one of the major assistants: Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, the Google Assistant, Microsoft's Cortana and Samsung's Bixby. This week Engadget is examining each of the five major virtual assistants, taking stock of how far they've come and how far they still have to go.


Inside Microsoft's AI Comeback

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But while his peer scientists Yann LeCun and Geoffrey Hinton have signed on to Facebook and Google, respectively, Bengio, 53, has chosen to continue working from his small third-floor office on the hilltop campus of the University of Montreal. Shum, who is in charge of all of AI and research at Microsoft, has just finished a dress rehearsal for next week's Build developers conference, and he wants to show me demos. Shum has spent the past several years helping his boss, CEO Satya Nadella, make good on his promise to remake Microsoft around artificial intelligence. Bill Gates showed off a mapping technology in 1998, for example, but it never came to market; Google launched Maps in 2005.


Branding Once Meant Logos. Today, It Means AI

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After all, consider that bees' markings are instantly distinctive to each other and across species as a biological imperative. The idea of the brand goes from optimistic (bees were a brand, man!) Will we ever start to see distinct, convincing personalities emerge as brands--or at least a few decent archetypes? Because right now, I don't think that most of us could really distinguish a Siri response from a Cortana response from an Alexa response, beyond the specific voice.


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ZDNet

Microsoft is combining its Cortana, Bing, and Ambient Computing and Robotics engineering teams with part of its Microsoft Research team to create a new Microsoft AI and Research Group. The newly formed group, unveiled on September 29, will have more than 5,000 people focused on Microsoft's AI product work all-up, and will be headed by Executive Vice President Harry Shum. The new group will handle AI product engineering, basic and applied research and Microssoft's New Experiences and Technologies (NExT) team. Microsoft has been honing its AI focus as of late, emphasizing the company's multi-faceted work in agent technologies (Cortana); increased built-in intelligence in its apps and bots; machine-learning and cognitive services; and infrastructure, specifically around some of its work around field-programmable gate-array technologies and other related Azure cloud work.


Google's DeepMind AI fakes some of the most realistic human voices yet

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WaveNet, as the system is called, generates voices by sampling real human speech and directly modeling audio waveforms based on it, as well as its previously generated audio. In Google's tests, both English and Mandarin Chinese listeners found WaveNet more realistic than other types of text-to-speech programs, although it was less convincing than actual human speech. The alternative is parametric text to speech -- building a completely computer-generated voice, using coded rules based on grammar or mouth sounds. Google's system is still based on real voice input.


3 Magical Ways Artificial Intelligence Can Save Your Time

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It's helping medical researchers, aiding in just about every computational process, and beating people in lots of games The AIs Are Winning: 5 Times When Computers Beat Humans The AIs Are Winning: 5 Times When Computers Beat Humans Artificial intelligence is getting good. These aren't AIs that are going to move us closer to the singularity Here's Why Scientists Think You Should be Worried about Artificial Intelligence Here's Why Scientists Think You Should be Worried about Artificial Intelligence Do you think artificial intelligence is dangerous? Boomerang is an add-on for Gmail 5 Smart Addons That Will Make You A Gmail Ninja 5 Smart Addons That Will Make You A Gmail Ninja Gmail has spawned many third party tools, extending it from a mere email service into something much more powerful instead. Siri, Google Now, and Cortana Siri vs Google Now vs Cortana for Home Voice Control Siri vs Google Now vs Cortana for Home Voice Control To find which home voice control is best for you, and which voice assistant fits your specific needs, we've unveiled the pros and cons for Siri, Google Now, and Cortana.


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ZDNet

Microsoft has released a new, 30-second video spot which pits the iPad Pro against the Surface Pro 4. The video spot -- presented as a conversation between Siri and Cortana -- highlights the differences between an iPad Pro, fitted with Apple's detachable keyboard (something Apple has been touting in a new commercial) and a Core i7-based Surface Pro with its detachable keyboard. The new ad also calls out the fact that Apple's iPad Pro isn't able to run "full Office," which is true, since the iPad Pro is an iOS, not OS X device. Microsoft tag line for its Surface Pro devices are "tablets that can replace your laptop."


When you talk to Siri, Cortana and Google Now, who's listening?

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If you so choose, you can delete voice items one at a time or purge all of them from the same page, which can be found in the depths of your Google account online. Actually, deleting all your voice clips doesn't purge them from Google's system. On my Voice & Activity page, I find each spoken item presented with a button next to it, allowing me to play the voice command back or delete it entirely. I can see why companies like Apple and Google want to work with spoken commands because speech recognition can only get better when computers confront more and more speech.


Developers: Use Cortana Intelligence Gallery to jump-start your knowledge about machine learning - The Fire Hose

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In a blog post, Amy Nicholson, technical evangelist at Microsoft, explains how she used the Cortana Intelligence Gallery, together with Azure ML Studio, to help her start building her own ML (machine learning) models "as well as my knowledge about this space." Azure ML is a fully managed cloud service on Microsoft Azure that helps you easily build, deploy and share predictive analytics solutions, Nicholson writes. All of this in a simple drag-and-drop interface to go from an idea to the deployment of a ML API in a matter of clicks." To learn more, visit the Cortana Intelligence and Machine Learning Blog.


Wanted: Creative types to shape the personalities of virtual assistants

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Now, she is applying her creative talents toward building the personality of a different type of character: a virtual assistant, animated by artificial intelligence, that interacts with sick patients. Unlike the fictional characters Ewing developed in Hollywood, who are put through adventures and plot twists, most virtual assistants are designed to perform largely prosaic tasks, such as reading through email, sending meeting reminders or turning off the lights. Writers for medical and productivity apps make character decisions, such as whether bots should be workaholics, self-effacing or eager beavers. At a recent meeting of Microsoft Cortana's six-person writing team -- which includes a poet, a novelist, a playwright and a former TV writer -- the group debated how to answer political questions.