With the current focus on AI as to whether it is beneficial or not, I recalled Tom Gruber’s TED Talk from April, 2017, How AI Can Enhance Our Memory, Work, and Social Lives. I had the privilege of watching a live feed of the talk and was impressed by Tom’s perspective on AI. He is definitely on the side of AI-as-beneficial.
“I think the purpose of AI is to empower humans with machine intelligence. And as machines get smarter, we get smarter. I call this "humanistic AI”—artificial intelligence designed to meet human needs by collaborating and augmenting people.”
Tom Gruber is notable for being the co-founder of Siri, Inc, a spin-off company of SRI in 2007 and acquired by Apple in 2010. At Apple, Siri became the conversational interface to iPhone. I remember the first year Siri shipped. It was a hit at parties. Everyone wanted to ask Siri something to see if the AI would slip up on the facts or swear or make some politically incorrect comment.
As smart as Siri seemed initially, as time wore on and AI technology advanced beyond the one-fact lookup or one-command execution, Siri started to look more and more like a dog. A faithful, friendly, dog who could do a few tricks, but not an entity that could handle much more than fetch-like commands. Certainly not an entity with which one could have a dialog. Siri never learned about context.
These days Siri is so concerned with knowledge sources that every answer has the source, for example, “I found this on wholefoods.com.” Having a dialog with someone who always cites their sources gets annoying fast. Perhaps it is a good thing Siri can’t dialog.
ChatGPT, on the other hand, is so good at dialog and so easy to use that I’ve renamed ChatGPT as Chatty. It’s a good name too. Because if anything negative can be said about Chatty it is that some answers are simply too long-winded. (To be fair, you can ask Chatty to provide a summary.)
Let’s Make Pumpkin Pie
It’s interesting to compare the older Siri technology with ChatGPT. Here are two conversations on the topic of pumpkin pie. You’ll see that Siri does not retain context from the first to the second question. Siri is a dead end for my pumpkin pie exploration. Whereas Chatty is both informative and witty.
How do I make pumpkin pie?
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Whisk in eggs, then add pumpkin, whisking until smooth. Gently whisk in half-and-half, then pour filling into unbaked pie shell and bake for 45 minutes, or until set around the edges. (Siri also cites the source as Whole Foods)
I'd like to know how long I have to bake it?
The baking time for baked potatoes will depend on the size of the potatoes. It can take anywhere between 50 minutes and 1 ½ hours. (Siri cites the source as Allrecipes)
Hmm, okay. How did we get to potatoes?
How do I make pumpkin pie?
To make pumpkin pie, you'll need pumpkin puree, sugar, eggs, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and a pie crust. Mix the ingredients, pour them into the crust, then bake it until it's set. Would you like a specific recipe or any tips for making pumpkin pie?
I'd like to know how long I have to bake it?
Bake the pumpkin pie at 425°F (218°C) for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350°F (175°C) and continue baking for 40-50 minutes until the center is set. You can check it by inserting a knife near the center; if it comes out clean, the pie is ready!
Can you please give me those instructions in Centigrade?
Sure, to bake the pumpkin pie, start by preheating the oven to 220°C for 15 minutes. Then, reduce the temperature to 175°C and continue baking for 40-50 minutes until the center sets.
Can you please provide those instructions in Kelvin?
Converting Fahrenheit and Celsius to Kelvin involves adding approximately 273.15 to Celsius. The initial temperature of 425°F is around 218.33°C. Converting Celsius to Kelvin: 218.33 + 273.15 = 491.48 Kelvin. The reduced temperature of 350°F is about 176.67°C. Converting Celsius to Kelvin: 176.67 + 273.15 = 449.82 Kelvin. Therefore, the initial temperature in Kelvin is approximately 491.48 Kelvin, and the reduced temperature is about 449.82 Kelvin.
Thank you. When I fly into space, this is going to be very helpful for me in my Kelvin oven.
Flying into space sounds exciting! Just a heads up, traditional ovens don't work in space due to the absence of air and gravity, but hey, if you ever have a space-ready kitchen with a Kelvin oven, you'll be all set!
And I do, I've invented one, so thank you.
That's incredible! Developing a Kelvin oven for space is quite an accomplishment. Wishing you the best with your space cooking adventures!
Beyond Chatty and on to Ai Pin
When I listened to Tom Gruber’s talk again this week, I was struck at how well his words describe the Humane Ai Pin. His talk was prescient.
“But what if you could have a memory that was as good as computer memory, and was about your life? What if you could remember every person you ever met, how to pronounce their name, their family details, their favorite sports, the last conversation you had with them? If you had this memory all your life, you could have the AI look at all the interactions you had with people over time and help you reflect on the long arc of your relationships. What if you could have the AI read everything you've ever read and listen to every song you've ever heard? From the tiniest clue, it could help you retrieve anything you've ever seen or heard before. Imagine what that would do for the ability to make new connections and form new ideas.”
“I believe that AI will make personal memory enhancement a reality. I can't say when or what form factors are involved, but I think it's inevitable, because the very things that make AI successful today—the availability of comprehensive data and the ability for machines to make sense of that data—can be applied to the data of our lives. And those data are here today, available for all of us, because we lead digitally mediated lives, in mobile and online.”
Ai Pin has the ability to record experiences—photos, music you listen to, locations, notes, lists, messages, phone calls, dates, and so on—and then to draw on this database when needed.
For example, perhaps you went to a park with friends a few weeks ago and listened to some tunes. You could ask “Play the music I listened to last time I was here.” Or perhaps you asked Ai Pin to “remember that Glen loves pasta.” Then when you ask Ai Pin to suggest a restaurant to go to with Glen, the suggestions would be based on Glen’s love of pasta as well as a location.
Ai Pin is just as good at turn-by-turn conversation as Chatty is, but when you add in the ability for Ai Pin to draw upon your personal memories, the technology becomes powerful indeed.
Tom Gruber once pointed out that very rich executives have assistants who whisper in their ear “That’s Jane, she is the head of PR for Acme firm. You and she met last April at the XYZ conference.” The information provided by the assistant helps the rich exec to look great and navigate the world of business. I remember Tom saying that this is the sort of assistant we all need. Ai Pin is the start of that.
Finally, at TED, Tom Gruber pointed out:
“In my view, a personal memory is a private memory. We get to choose what is and is not recalled and retained. It's absolutely essential that this be kept very secure.”
Humane is committed to keeping information secure. The user can peruse their data and delete or keep what they want. And Ai Pin has a Trust light that, when lit, informs anyone around the Ai Pin user that data is being recorded. Privacy for those around you is as important as personal privacy.
Although Tom Gruber left Apple several years ago, he is still involved in Humanistic AI. One of his projects is LifeScore, adaptive music powered by AI. Check out his website. https://tomgruber.org/advisory/lifescore-story
The Humane Ai Pin ships in 2024. If you want to see it in action, check out the videos and other information on https://hu.ma.ne/ If you want more information, do an internet search. Just about every news outlet, blog, and podcast, has reviewed Ai Pin or interviewed CEO/Co-Founder Bethany Bongiorno and Designer/Innovator/Inventor/Co-Founder Imran Chaudhri.
Ai Pin is an amazing product that brings the power of a personal assistant to all of us. I also think Ai Pin will prove to be helpful to people with failing memories. What of Siri? Siri was my first AI. Although there will always be a special place in my heart for it, I’m ready to move on.
Bunny Laden is a former Apple employee of 22 years who worked with many teams, including Siri and Machine Learning. More recently, she did contract work for Humane. The image for this article was created by a human and licensed from Shutterstock.