Daily Management Review

Despite Enhacing Siri, Apple Still Trails in Artificial Intelligence Race


Despite Enhacing Siri, Apple Still Trails in Artificial Intelligence Race
Despite Apple’s recent efforts at improving its repertoire of digital assistants with the unveiling of a series of improvements to its Siri digital assistant, experts believe that rivals such as Google and Amazon are still ahead of the tech giant in the red-hot field of artificial intelligence.
Apple's biggest move was to pave the way for users to hail a ride from Uber or send a message with Tencent's WeChat using voice commands by opening up the talking iPhone assistant to third-party developers for inclusion in their apps.
Partly since the more people use an artificial intelligence system, the better it becomes, experts in artificial intelligence applauded the move by Apple as an important step forward.
But noting that competing products including Amazon.com's Alexa, Microsoft's Cortana and the Google app are already open to developers, some wondered why Apple had not made Siri an open platform much sooner.
“Is it too little too late? Siri is five years old and still trying to learn how to play well with others” says Oren Etzioni, who is CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence and a professor at the University of Washington.
The ability to do functions normally done by people such as speech recognition are given to computers and this is the core concept of artificial intelligence.

Voice-powered digital assistants are considered a key strategic battleground for all the major tech companies as they could eventually perform many tasks that currently require a smartphone app or a keyboard and a mouse.
The winner of the assistant wars would be able to steer users toward its products and those of its allies and might able to take a cut of purchases made on its platform.
“This is a new platform war with huge stakes. It ultimately challenges search and the market capitalization of Google,”said Gary Morgenthaler, a venture capitalist who invested in Siri when it was a startup.
Experts are of the opinion that some of its momentum may have been squandered by Apple. Siri, the startup behind the eponymous digital assistant was purchased by apple which quickly became a cultural touchstone after its release on the iPhone and gave the tech giant the opportunity to essentially create the category.
Apple cut off third-party access to the service shortly after the acquisition even though as a startup, Siri worked with a variety of popular apps. Morgenthaler said that the assistant was brought closer to the original vision for it by Apple’s recent move.
“It’s pretty sad for those of us who were part of the original team. The rate of innovation has been less than what we would have imagined,” he said.
However there are other concerns about Apple’s aptitude for artificial intelligence that troubles technology experts. These include the company’s strict privacy stance limits data collection, which is critical for making assistants smarter and its slow pace of recruiting talent relative to peers such as Google and Amazon. Etzioni said that Apple’s latest announcement did little to allay those fears.
“We see some policy shifts, we see some small changes, but there was no explosive announcement,” he said.
“Apple is in the hunt, working hard on this. They are maybe a step behind Google, but I would say they are close enough that Google is not going to leave them in the dust,” Morgenthaler said.