The BBC’s virtual assistant is now available for testing in the UK

A virtual assistant from the BBC which aims to cater for Britain’s many dialects is now available for testing.

Even as a Brit, it can often feel like a translation app is needed between Bristolian, Geordie, Mancunian, Brummie, Scottish, Irish, or any of the other regional dialects in the country. For a geographically small country, we’re a diverse bunch – and US-made voice assistants often struggle with even the slightest accent.

The BBC thinks it can do a better...

Meena is Google’s first truly conversational AI

google meena ai conversational artificial intelligence virtual assistant technology

Google is attempting to build the first digital assistant that can truly hold a conversation with an AI project called Meena.

Digital assistants like Alexa and Siri are programmed to pick up keywords and provide scripted responses. Google has previously demonstrated its work towards a more natural conversation with its Duplex project but Meena should offer another leap forward.

Meena is a neural network with 2.6 billion parameters. Google claims Meena is able to handle...

Huawei announces its own AI assistant as it prepares for Google-less life

huawei assistant mate 30 pro google services ai artificial intelligence

Huawei has announced its own AI-powered assistant during a launch event in Munich as it prepares for life without Google’s services.

Due to US trade restrictions, Huawei is losing access to Google’s services. The new Mate 30 smartphones announced in Munich today will launch with the open-source Android, but it will not feature the Play Store, Gmail, YouTube, Google Pay, or the many other services which Western consumers are used to.

Among the features that will be...

Amazon patent envisions Alexa listening to everything 24/7

A patent filed by Amazon envisions a future where Alexa listens to users 24/7 without the need for a wakeword.

Current digital assistants listen for a wakeword such as “Ok, Google” or “Alexa,” before recording speech for processing. Especially for companies such as Google and Amazon which thrive on knowing everything about users, this helps to quell privacy concerns.

There are some drawbacks from this approach, mainly context. Future AI assistants will be able to...

Google’s Duplex booking AI often relies on humans for backup

Google Duplex often calls on humans for backup when making reservations on behalf of users, and that should be welcomed.

Duplex caused a stir when it debuted at Google’s I/O developer conference last year. The AI was shown calling a hair salon to make a booking and did so complete with human-like “ums” and “ahs”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qCanuYrR0g

The use of such human mannerisms goes to show Google’s intention was for the human to be unaware...

NHS report suggests AI will give docs more patient time

A report from the NHS suggests the impending technological ‘revolution’ in healthcare will increase the amount of time doctors can spend with patients.

NHS doctors are overburdened; a problem only getting worse from a growing and ageing population, and not enough funding.

The report was led by US academic Eric Topol and calls for a reskilling of NHS staff to harness new digital skills. AI and robotics can reduce the burden on healthcare professionals, but only if...

Consumers want businesses to have more human-like AI

Research has found most consumers have interacted with AI and would prioritise businesses with human-like implementations. The research, from Capgemini’s Digital Transformation Institute, found close to three-quarters (73 percent) of consumers have interacted via AI. Satisfaction with those who have experienced AI interactions is slightly lower, at 69 percent. Over two-thirds satisfaction is quite surprisingly high, especially when you consider how dissatisfied people typically are with...

Watch out Google Duplex, Microsoft also has a chatty AI

Not content with being outdone by Google’s impressive (yet creepy) Duplex demo, Microsoft has shown it also has an AI capable of making human-like phone calls. The company first launched its XiaoIce project back in August 2017. In April, Microsoft said it had achieved full duplexing — the ability to speak and listen at the same time, similar to humans. Microsoft’s announcement was made before Google’s demonstration earlier this month but, unlike Google, the company had nothing to show...

Huawei wants to develop the first digital assistant with emotions

huawei ai digital assistant virtual artificial intelligence

Technology giant Huawei wants to develop the first digital assistant which evokes an emotional bond with the user to offer a more personal experience. "We want to introduce emotional interactions,” said Felix Zhang, VP of Software Engineering at Huawei, in an interview with CNBC. “We believe that in the future all of our end users will want to interact with the system more passionately.” If the movie ‘Her’ comes to mind when hearing about Huawei’s plans, executives said they were...

Facebook’s AI-driven M assistant chatbot reaches the UK

facebook ai chatbot m assistant

Facebook’s AI-driven M assistant chatbot has safely made it across the Atlantic and is now helping Messenger users in the UK. The chatbot will butt into your conversations if it feels it can be of assistance. For example, when discussing making plans it could find you nearby places, create a poll about where to go, and find time in participants’ diaries. When you arrive you could follow up with a question like “Where are you?” and the chatbot will prompt the other person to send...