Let’s see if we can put two and two together and come up with four. Apple CEO Tim Cook says the company is high on artificial intelligence (AI), and the iPhone’s future is AI, and Apple has hired a bunch of AI brains to help out with machine learning projects.
Those folks at iFixIt who tear apart very new Apple product to see what’s inside found a new chip in the iPhone 7. It’s called FPGA, a field-programmable gate array; a chip that can be re-programmed even after being installed in a device. What do FPGA’s do? Accelerate machine learning applications. See? Two and two makes four.
A Smarter Siri
FPGA’s are not exactly new, but what they do in today’s premium smartphones is anyone’s guess. Except for those who made sure the chips found a place to live. Samsung put one in the Galaxy S5 but it never made it to the Galaxy S6, but then again Samsung doesn’t have a reputation for artificial intelligence or machine learning or even executives that can make good product decisions.
One notable difference with an FPGA chip that resides in an iPhone vs. the cloud– typically Google’s AI and machine learning approach– is performance. Perhaps Apple wants Siri to be smarter on the iPhone itself, vs. using the cloud, which requires the all important internet connection. There’s also the security aspect whereby an iPhone stores data more securely on the customer’s phone vs. storing it in the cloud where Google, Amazon, or government spooks and hackers have access to the data.
As of now, there’s no indication the FPGA in the iPhone actually does anything, but neither did the NFC chip in the iPhone 6s until the iPhone 6 came out with Apple Pay, so there is precedent for Apple to seed the marketplace with new technology hardware that won’t get used until there is sufficient mass.
My prediction? A smarter, faster Siri.
And not a minute too soon. Ron McElfresh:
Siri just isn’t very smart, doesn’t do much that’s truly important or useful, and seems to work much like every other intelligent personal assistant; from Amazon’s Alexa to Microsoft’s Cortana to Google’s whatever-name-they-use-now. All four of these major AI voice response bots have their limitations, and each one has a few different parlor tricks that make them seem better than the competition but the reality is this. Siri isn’t very smart and neither are the others.
The article is entitled Welcome To The Age Of The Bimbo Bots so that should tell you that Siri could use some help to raise her/his artificial intelligence IQ. As it stands now, Siri needs to check back with Apple to perform even the most basic of tasks.
Regardless, all of these bimbo bots have their own set of parlor tricks to make them seem smart during presentations and videos but the sad reality is this. They don’t do much. Yet. But we’ve been waiting for years for some set of killer functionality to take over and it’s just not there. Dictation, turn-by-turn driving instructions, weather and sports scores, reading news or texts or email, playing movies and doing web searches, and opening up apps seems to be the extent of this technology, regardless of the platforms. Each one can do a few more tricks than the others, but we seem to be a long way from actual interaction with artificial intelligence.
What if your new iPhone was sufficiently powerful enough that a growing amount of what Siri could do could be done right on your iPhone? That means Siri could respond faster and rely less on machine learning store in the cloud, yet still allow Apple to gather enough data to improve Siri’s responses to queries and actions. That means Siri could be faster, just as smart, and whatever Apple’s personal intelligent assistant learns about you stays with you, the customer, on your device.
I think iPhone 7’s new FPGA chip is a remote brain for Siri.