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Siri is about to get a whole lot smarter

Siri is about to get a whole lot smarter
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Apple's digital assistant Siri was a turning point in the smartphone world when Apple introduced it two years ago. While Siri-like virtual assistants are the future - see Google Now and Microsoft's Cortana - it isn't perfect technology yet. If you don't speak clearly enough, Siri doesn't always understand you.

That is probably going to change sooner than you think.

Apple seems to be getting close to adopting a technology that will drastically improve Siri's speech recognition. The technology, called neural networks, is nothing new. It's been around for 30 years, but really took off in 2009 after a speech by deep learning expert Geoff Hinton. Microsoft then brought Hinton in to run experiments and the results were off the charts.

Hinton’s idea was that machine learning models could work a lot like neurons in the human brain. He wanted to build “neural networks” that could gradually assemble an understanding of spoken words as more and more of them arrived. Neural networks were hot in the 1980s, but by 2009, they hadn’t lived up to their potential.

Next page: Why Apple is lagging behind
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