17th March 2023
As the excitement around ChatGPT and generative AI continues, Apple is now reportedly actively exploring AI-based language generation concepts.
In recent weeks, many of the major tech companies have been racing to integrate generative language into their products to keep up with ChatGPT. It now seems Apple is joining the AI party.
Apple recently held its annual internal conference on AI and large language models, and a New York Times report suggests that many engineers, including those on Siri, are testing “language-generating concepts” which could improve the existing Siri assistant. However, whilst it appears the company may be actively testing natural language generation features for Siri, there is no indication that it is developing a separate service resembling ChatGPT, instead using AI to make Siri smarter and more intuitive.
Users will welcome improvements to Apple’s AI assistant Siri. Siri (and other AI assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant) have been criticized for not understanding queries and failing to understand dialects and accents of people. The newly popular ChatGPT and other text-based AI search services make it easier for people to ask natural language questions and get the information that they are looking for in a conversational format, but currently the only way to chat with Siri in a similar way with text instead of voice, is by enabling an accessibility feature in settings.
Generative language would be a huge undertaking for Apple though. The way that Siri currently works means that it can’t learn new commands, it needs to be fed a prompt that already exists inside its database. So, if a user asks Siri a question that hasn't already been integrated into its code, it responds that it cannot help them. An ex-Apple programmer told the New York Times that upgrading Siri’s data collection would require a complete rebuild of the database and would take up to six weeks, and that he estimates it would take at least a year to implement more complex functions into Siri.
But in the meantime, other big tech companies are steaming ahead with their generative language projects. Microsoft has already begun testing its ChatGPT features, which have been integrated into its Bing and Edge products and this week news that it was soon to integrate AI into Office products surfaced.
Google, which is testing its chatbot Bard, also said this week that it is integrating AI into its Workspace tools like Gmail and Docs and is making its artificial intelligence (AI) language model, PaLM, available to businesses and developers through Google Workspace. And China’s search giant Baidu is testing its equivalent of ChatGPT, a bot called ‘Ernie’ or 'Wenxin Yiyan' in Chinese, which is a large language model (LLM).
Generative language is changing how people search for information and interact with ‘search services'. OpenAI released GPT-4 this week, an upgraded and more accurate model for ChatGPT and more tech companies are sprinting to come up with a response. We’re only at the start of the race to develop the best AI-based language generation concepts.
9to5 Mac | TechCrunch | NYT | Mashable| TechCrunch (Baidu Ernie)