Clicking through multiple layers of menus and scrolling through tiny pages isn’t the most efficient way to work with electronic information-just ask someone squinting at the screen of a personal digital assistant. Liam Comerford and his colleagues at IBM’s Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY, have developed an alternative that allows interaction through conversational voice commands. Called the Personal Speech Assistant, this handheld goes above and beyond the voice-activated menu commands available with other devices. It understands natural-language queries such as “Show me my address book,” or “When’s my next appointment?” The assistant extracts the pertinent information from its database and answers with synthetic speech. It also tailors its responses based on the user’s needs; if someone forwards through the detailed spoken instructions, for example, the device automatically starts to deliver shorter prompts. As an added bonus, the prototype translates English phrases into any of five languages. The prototype (photo) is a stationary unit that cradles a Palm III, but within a year, the software should be available for handheld-device manufacturers to incorporate into their products. “It’s mostly a matter of the right party stepping up and saying, ‘Gimme,’” says Comerford.
This new data poisoning tool lets artists fight back against generative AI
The tool, called Nightshade, messes up training data in ways that could cause serious damage to image-generating AI models.
Rogue superintelligence and merging with machines: Inside the mind of OpenAI’s chief scientist
An exclusive conversation with Ilya Sutskever on his fears for the future of AI and why they’ve made him change the focus of his life’s work.
The Biggest Questions: What is death?
New neuroscience is challenging our understanding of the dying process—bringing opportunities for the living.
Data analytics reveal real business value
Sophisticated analytics tools mine insights from data, optimizing operational processes across the enterprise.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.