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Apple’s Silk Labs purchase pushes artificial intelligence to the edge; Apple could give Siri an offline mode

Wednesday November 21, 2018. 09:00 PM , from Mac Daily News
“Apple’s AI push into on-device machine learning continues with news of its acquisition of Silk Labs breaking just as the U.S. heads into its annual holiday season,” Jonny Evans writes for Computerworld. “The acquisition closely matches Apple’s feelings about the need to put AI/machine intelligence at the edge. Devices must be smart enough to function when they are offline and secure enough not to damage the privacy of customers.”
“Apple’s Craig Federighi put it this way: ‘When it comes to performing analysis of your data, we’re doing it on your devices, keeping your personal data under your control,'” Evans writes. “Apple CEO, Tim Cook, has stressed both privacy and the importance of on-device AI in interviews in the last week or so.”
“Apple’s decision to develop on-device machine intelligence is shrewd — and not just on grounds of privacy,” Evans writes. “To develop smart machines that can work effectively when offline, it is mandatory to maximize on-device intelligence— smart machines must be intelligent on the edge, not just in the cloud. When it comes to larger machines, such as cars, no one wants to suffer an accident because the vehicle couldn’t get online to get told what to do next.”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: If you live in an area with poor cell coverage, you know all to well valuable an offline-capable Siri would be.
“Apple’s digital personal assistant Siri currently has a huge number of limitations, but one is particularly obvious to users without cellular connections: Siri only works when connected to the internet,” Jeremy Horwitz reports for VentureBeat. “A new patent application suggests Apple is planning to change that by giving Siri an offline mode — one that the assistant can fall back upon when an internet connection isn’t available.”
“Currently, Siri depends so much on internet access that it cannot function without it. When wireless features are disabled in Airplane Mode, even an attempt to ask the current time — information that’s on the device — leads to a demurral that ‘I’m having some trouble with the connection,'” Horwitz reports. “That’s because Siri quietly relies on Apple’s servers, rather than the device itself, to interpret a user’s speech and provide a response.”
“Apple’s patent application suggests it wants to bifurcate Siri into two systems: an on-device Siri and a server-side Siri, now with the ability to determine which of the two services produces a higher ‘usefulness score’ for the user’s spoken request,” Horwitz reports. “Apple’s patent application was published [on November 15, 2018] and originally filed in September 2017, suggesting that the offline Siri feature has been in the works for some time. ”
Read more in the full article here.
Apple acquires artificial intelligence startup Silk Labs – November 21, 2018
‘Hey Siri, why don’t you have an offline mode?’ – January 18, 2017
Apple’s AirPods show just how badly Siri needs an offline mode – December 23, 2016

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