Chatting with a digital assistant is about as much fun as trying to reason with a stubborn child. If you've ever found yourself yelling at your Xbox or swearing at Siri, you may have already lost hope.
But researchers say recent breakthroughs in speech recognition and artificial intelligence will soon make gadgets dramatically better at understanding people. This new breed of highly competent machines, which are able to not only hear us but to understand context and nuance, is just a year or two away, says Johan Schalkwyk, a distinguished engineer at Google.
Schalkwyk (pronounced "skulk-vick," though Siri calls him "shaw-quick") is working on an ambitious research project at Google to create speech systems that plug into the company's vast amounts of data. A project currently being tested in the lab allows computers to hear and essentially "think" about what people say into Google's digital ear, Schalkwyk says.
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