Will the AI we talk to be our servant, friend, or god?
Apple’s voice recognizing digital assistant, Siri, has a dry wit. Ask her to talk dirty, and she’ll respond, “Humus. Compost. Pumice. Silt. Gravel.” Microsoft recently debuted a similar digital assistant of their own. She’s called Cortana, modeled after an AI character in Microsoft’s hit video game series Halo. And much like Siri, she has a personality, though hers leans a bit more toward cockiness. Ask Cortana if she’s better than Siri, and she’ll brag about her video game namesake—pointing out that in 500 years, she’ll save the universe. But the reasons for designing Cortana this way extend past mere novelty.
Google’s secretive R&D lab Google X gets lots of attention for testing and developing moonshot ideas, even though its work has touched few consumers. Fast Company took readers for a detailed behind-the-scenes look inside the Google X operations in April—a world of driverless cars, high-flying Wi-Fi balloons, and even space elevators.
The search giant’s rival Microsoft—a company that could use some disruptive ideas as it struggles to gain major new revenue streams in the shifting computing market—is now taking a cue from its competitor and launching a “Special Projects” group, headed by former deputy director at DARPA Norman A. Whitaker and under the umbrella of Microsoft Research, the company’s sprawling university-like research division.
At a lab office ribbon cutting in New York City, Co.Exist spoke with Microsoft Research chief Peter Lee, who last summer stepped up to oversee his division’s 1,150 scientists and engineers. His comments provide a glimpse into how the $65 billion company is changing the way it thinks about innovation.
“This is a big deal for us,” says Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley. “If anything, this [deal with Microsoft] will illustrate how companies can improve existing products with Foursquare data. It’s a starting point.”
Doogie Horner, author of 100 Ghosts, a collection of reimaginings of the classic white-sheet ghost, drew some pitchmen from beyond the grave for Co.Create. If you haven’t decided on a Halloween costume yet, maybe you’ll be inspired. Check them out.
Another awesome live Q&A on our site today! Join us this afternoon for a conversation with Carl Ledbetter, Sr. Principal Industrial Design Manager at Microsoft.
"The problem lies not in the attacking nature of the video, but in the fact that it simply wasn’t funny—the tech equivalent of watching your uncle twerking at a family wedding."
Microsoft pulled a series of Apple parody videos after a few hours due to backlash
"You’ve sold your phone department to Microsoft, why are you even tweeting about the iPhone? Clearly your phones don’t measure up.."
The news that former Xbox chief Don Mattrick was leaving Microsoft to help revive the social gaming company Zynga has people wondering if Steven Spielberg will stick with Microsoft’s planned TV series based on the video game Halo.
The Halo series will, of course, proceed without Mattrick, but given that Mattrick’s close relationship with Spielberg was key in signing the deal, one has to wonder whether new snags might arise now that he’s gone.
[Image courtesy of 343 Industries]
Daily Fast Feed Roundup
Good morning Tumblr! Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know today:
- Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke has removed his music from Spotify, saying that “new artists won’t get paid f***all” while “shareholders are rolling it in.”
- Spotify responded to Yorke’s claim, saying that it pays handsomely and is “having a hugely positive effect on artists and new music.”
- Word on the street is that Apple is beefing up its iWatch staff and prepping for an ‘aggressive’ development of a smart watch.
- The British royal baby hasn’t even been born yet but it already has an app.
- Microsoft just cut the price of its tablet by a third. This move is a hint that it is struggling to gain traction in the tablet market.
Have a great day!
Daily Fast Feed Roundup
Hi Tumblr! Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know today:
- Rejoice! Google has brought back the ability to make calls from Gmail.
- BlackBerryhas lost its battle with Indian authorities, who have been demanding that it let them spy on users in order to protect the state and prevent terrorism.
- Apple has been found guilty of conspiring with five major book publishers to artificially raise e-book prices.
- Today’s Most Innovative Company is NASA, which is planning to send a new rover to Mars in 2020.
- Today’s Most Creative People are the students behind NASA’s awesome Grover rover.
- A code found buried in the iOS 7 beta is a clue that the new iPhone may have a slow motion camera.
- A new, more accurate clock that uses lasers to help tell time may change our definition of the second.
- Ever trekked all the way to a cafe just to find out that their Wi-fi is lousy? Now you can avoid that inconvenience using the SeedSpot app, which lets you test the Wi-Fi networks in your area.
- Google just cleaned up the Android Maps app, giving it a sleeker, more useable design.
- Hackers are taking advantage of Microsoft’s security flaw, which was announced earlier this year by a Google employee.
Have a great day!
Who is Don Mattrick, the guy who’s leaving Microsoft to join Zynga as CEO? Here, a few things you might want to know about him:
- He is currently president of the company’s Interactive Entertainment unit
- He was formerly at EA, where he was the force behind The Sims
- He discovered a motion-control technology that had been kicking around the company but going nowhere. When Kinect launched in the fall of 2010, it became the fastest-selling consumer-electronics gadget of all time
- He was the force behind the new Xbox One
- He wears rainbow-stripe Paul Smith socks and once hired Cirque du Soleil to kick off a Microsoft event
- His house is 25,000 square feet and is the largest in British Columbia
- He has a 10-car garage
- He’s worth $27 million
Don Mattrick is leaving Microsoft for Zynga. Mattrick’s latest creation, Xbox One, offers a personalized program screen, as well as the ability to let users Skype with friends while watching TV and get live stats from their fantasy football team during NFL broadcasts. Users can switch seamlessly between gaming and web surfing, and in perhaps the purest expression of this marriage of gaming, tech, and entertainment pop, Mattrick’s pal Spielberg has signed on to produce a TV series based on the Halo video-game franchise, exclusively for the Xbox One.