John Markoff reports on an important area of research: how to make a talking computer sound friendly and approachable to humans? The trick, as exemplified by IBM's Jeopardy-winning Watson and Apple's Siri: you want it to sound slightly robotic, thereby avoiding uncanniness.
Most software designers acknowledge that they are still faced with crossing the “uncanny valley,” in which voices that are almost human-sounding are actually disturbing or jarring. The phrase was coined by the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori in 1970. He observed that as graphical animations became more humanlike, there was a point at which they would become creepy and weird before improving to become indistinguishable from videos of humans.… “Jarring is the way I would put it,” said Brian Langner, senior speech scientist at ToyTalk, a technology firm in San Francisco that creates digital speech for things like the Barbie doll. “When the machine gets some of those things correct, people tend to expect that it will get everything correct.”
The article has some of the Watson test voices. A masculine one was chosen to sound "objective and natural" and "like a trusted colleague." Rejected feminine voices can be heard at the article, as well as a childlike voice deemed too "creepy."
Arthur C. Clarke forecasts the future in 1974. We’ve come a long way. Kinda. (via r/ObscureMedia)
Chris Veltri, proprietor of San Francisco’s legendary Groove Merchant record shop, posted this astounding artifact to his Instagram wunderkammer of outré culture paper ephemera @collagedropoutsf! It’s a poster for a lecture by artificial intelligence pioneer Herbert Simon that took place at UC Berkeley in 1974. The speech was titled “How Man and Computers Understand Language.” […]
Paul Allen, billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, philanthropist, science fiction fan, and founder of Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (formerly the Experience Museum Project), has died from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 65. “From technology to science to music to art, I’m inspired by those who’ve blurred the boundaries, who’ve looked at the possibilities, and […]
Ever wondered what it takes to make the transition from amateur photography to a full career? If you answered “a better camera,” you’re half right. Before you get the equipment, get the know-how to use it with the Hollywood Art Institute Photography Course & Certification. Taught by experienced pros, this course is geared towards shutterbugs […]
Anyone can learn piano, but don’t tell that to the bored kids who had to endure hours of “Chopsticks” and similar drills in their music lessons. Today, there’s a better way. Pianoforall lets you jump right in to discover what makes music fun, leaving you eager to learn more. In a simple but innovative approach, […]
There are two times you never want to just “eyeball” it: Conducting brain surgery and matching shades of paint for your walls. Whether you’re painting or repainting, make sure you’re never just “close enough” to the color you want. Not when the Nix Mini Color Sensor can scan and match any color perfectly. Small enough […]