The History of Siri

by Christopher Paul on January 24, 2013

The Huffington Post has long article on the history of Siri, Apple’s voice controlled interface for iOS. One interesting bit of trivia is that Siri’s roots are with the government:

In 2003, the agency’s investment arm, DARPA, tapped the non-profit research institute SRI International to lead a five-year, 500-person effort to build a virtual assistant, one the government hoped might yield software to help military commanders with both information overload and office chores. Although it wasn’t the project’s mission, this helper, the Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes, or CALO, would ultimately provide the inspiration and model for Siri.

The Defense Department’s financial backing, $150 million in all, united hundreds of top-tier artificial intelligence experts for an ambitious and uncertain endeavor that most corporate R&D labs could only dream of tackling: teaching computers to learn in the wild. The army of engineers at “nerd city” – one SRI researcher’s nickname for the lab – were tasked with creating a PC-based helper smart enough to learn by observing a user’s behavior, and all the people, projects and topics relevant to her work. The undertaking was “by any measure, the largest AI program in history,” says David Israel, one of the lead researchers on CALO.

Some other interesting information is that Siri was about to be a default feature on all of Verizon Wireless’ Droid phones until Apple bought it.

Overall, it’s fascinating story and the type of investigation journalism I enjoy reading.

via everyone on the internet

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