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."
Commodore made the world’s most successful 8-bit personal computer, the C64, and its most iconic 16-bit one, the Commodore Amiga. But the latter was a weird, complicated, two-faced beast, dooming a badly-managed company to a dead end of its own making. What if it had instead made a simple but powerful monster machine more like […]
Available free on Archive.org, the 1985 Electronic Engineers Master Vol 2 contains page after page of excellent technology company logos, many of which have been lost to the obsolescence of hardware and business plans. Marcin Wichary the designer/typographer/writer behind the Segmented Type Playground and the Pac-Man Google Doodle, turned the logos into a beautifully haunting […]
This clip, posted by David Hoffman a few years ago, is going viral this fine Wednesday morning: “I was shooting a documentary called “The Information Society” in 1979 and filmed this in Cedar Rapids Iowa. Compushop had just begun selling the Apple II and this guy had a keen sense of what was coming.”
While it’s fun to watch Hollywood action heroes hack into cameras to spy on their targets, the thought of an actual cybercriminal using our own security devices against us is chilling for most. That’s what makes the iPM World HD 360 Degree 1080p Wireless IP Camera essential for anyone looking to deter digital and physical intruders […]
Spring came and went, but we’re not here to judge if you didn’t get around to cleaning up your living space. After all, taking the time to vacuum your floors can stretch out into a lengthy task when you’re constantly switching between power outlets and trying to jam your machine into those tight corners. With […]
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