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本文摘要:What does it take to bring AI to the masses? A large number of everyday gadgets in which to embed the technology certainly helps. 要将人工智能(AI)推上大众,应当怎样做到?

What does it take to bring AI to the masses? A large number of everyday gadgets in which to embed the technology certainly helps. 要将人工智能(AI)推上大众,应当怎样做到?映射这种技术的大量日常电子产品认同有协助。Apple’s digital assistant, Siri, was considered a lightweight in AI circles when it appeared five years ago, but it has since become a core service for many iPhone owners. 苹果(Apple)五年前发售数字助手Siri时,它还被人工智能界视作一款无足轻重的产品,但自那以来,Siri已沦为许多iPhone用户用于的核心服务。Data from all those users has helped in training the software and making it smarter.来自所有这些用户的数据为训练这款软件获取了协助,让它显得更为智能。

On Wednesday, Samsung joined the AI race with the purchase of Viv, a start-up from the core group of engineers who created Siri. 上周三,三星(Samsung)通过并购Viv重新加入了人工智能竞赛,后者是由发明者Siri的一群骨干工程师创立的一家初创公司。Samsung made 23 per cent of the smartphones shipped in the first half of this year, according to IDC, so it has a ready launch pad for Viv’s smart assistant.IDC的数据表明,今年上半年,三星占到全球智能手机出货量的23%,因此,对Viv的智能助手来说,三星享有现成的启动平台。

And if voice-responsive intelligence needs nothing more than a microphone and an internet connection, why should not Viv also make the leap into Samsung TVs and the 100m appliances such as fridges it ships each year?如果说语音接收者式的人工智能必须的意味着是一个麦克风和一条互联网相连,为什么不把Viv大量应用于三星的电视机及其每年销售的1亿件家电(如冰箱)上呢?Bundling their digital assistants with these devices and appliances guarantees Apple and Samsung wide distribution. 将自家的数字助手与这些设备和家电绑在一起,确保了苹果和三星的普遍分销。Users probably would not bother to go to an app store and download another assistant, if there was already one deeply integrated into the hardware.如果所购硬件设备早已装有一款深度构建的数字助手,用户之后会再行费力到应用于商店iTunes另一款助手。So what of Google? The company widely considered to have the most advanced AI of any of the big tech companies took the wraps off its own digital assistant this week. 那么,谷歌(Google)在做到些什么呢?被普遍认为在所有大型科技公司中享有最先进设备人工智能的该公司,上周发售了自己的数字助手谷歌助理(Google Assistant)。

According to chief executive Sundar Pichai, this is nothing less than the future of Google: an intelligent agent that will be used to find information, communicate and carry out any number of everyday tasks.谷歌首席执行官桑德尔皮查伊(Sundar Pichai,见上图)回应,这无不为谷歌的未来:一款智能代理,将被用作查询信息、交流并继续执行给定数量的日常任务。He did not explain how the technology would also extend Google’s advertising reach, but the potential from all the extra data the assistant will collect was implicit: this will be the ultimate personalised intelligence.他未说明这项技术还将不断扩大谷歌的广告覆盖面,但这款助手将不会搜集的所有额外数据的潜力是不言而喻的:这将沦为终极的个性化智能。If digital assistants are that important, then Google’s opening salvo looks underwhelming.如果说数字助手知道如此最重要的话,那么谷歌的第一波攻势给人印象不深刻印象。

The software made its debut last month as part of Allo, a mobile messaging service that faces an uphill battle against entrenched services such as Facebook’s Messenger. 上月,这款软件作为移动即时信息服务Allo的一部分首次亮相,后者将与早就站稳脚跟的服务(如Facebook旗下的Messenger)进行艰苦竞争。It will also be in Home, a smart speaker that goes on sale next month. 它也将被映射下个月上市的、取名为Home的一款智能音箱中。Tech research firm Gartner forecasts that intelligent speakers like this will be in 3.3 per cent of homes four years from now — a sizeable new market, but hardly the kind of ubiquity that Google’s business model depends on.科技研究公司低德纳(Gartner)预测,此类智能音箱在4年后将经常出现于3.3%的居所——一个相当大的新市场,但并非谷歌商业模式所倚赖的那种无处不在。

And then there are the Pixel and Pixel XL, Google’s first two high-end smartphones, announced this week. 然后就是谷歌上周公布的两款高端智能手机Pixel和Pixel XL。Positioned against existing products from Apple and Samsung, expectations for the Pixel phones — with few extra features to distinguish them — start out low.以定坐落于与苹果和三星的现有产品竞争,对Pixel系列手机的期望——两款手机完全没别具一格的特征——一开始就较为较低。The big question, of course, is why Google has not released Assistant to all Android makers. 当然,仅次于的问题在于谷歌为何不向所有Android手机制造商对外开放其智能助手。

If it simply wants a period to iron out any kinks, then wider distribution of the service should quickly follow. 如果谷歌只是想要有一段时间完备软件,那就应当迅速不断扩大这款服务的分布面。But if it is holding the software back as a selling point for Pixel phones, it could spell trouble.但如果谷歌攻下这款软件作为Pixel手机的卖点,那有可能伴随前景危急。Google has made much of the fact that its new hardware division is operating at arm’s length from the Android group, and that each is pursuing the strategies that make most sense to its own business. 谷歌特别强调称之为,其新的硬件部门与Android事业群在运营上维持一段距离,两个部门都在谋求对自身业务最不具意义的战略。Assistant could be the first test of that, pitting the value of exclusivity against the advantages — in terms of advertising reach and collecting data to train the AI — of the widest possible distribution.谷歌助理将沦为回应的首次考验,对决两面的利弊:一面是排他性的价值,另一面是仅次于有可能产于的优势(就广告覆盖面和搜集数据以训练人工智能而言)。

Even the Android platform is no guarantee of unhindered reach. 甚至安卓平台也无法确保畅通无阻的覆盖面积。Samsung, like others, is obliged to bundle Google services in its phones. 与其他手机厂商一样,三星被迫在自己的手机中绑谷歌的服务。But the Viv purchase gives it a rival service to promote, and is another sign of growing tensions between the companies as Samsung looks to defend against a squeeze in its hardware profit margins.但并购Viv给三星带给了一项必须推展的竞争性服务,这是三星和谷歌之间关系日益紧绷的又一个标志,三星期望抵挡其硬件利润率遭到的断裂。

Any attempt to release Assistant more widely would also run up against the highly fragmented state of the Android world. 更加普遍对外开放谷歌助理的任何尝试,都将遭遇安卓世界正处于高度割据一方状态的现实。Most phones run older versions of the software, severely limiting Google’s ability to reach large markets with its latest technology.多数手机运营较旧版本的这款操作系统,相当严重容许了谷歌利用近期技术不断扩大市场覆盖面积的能力。

All of this explains why Google is in the midst of another of its on-again, off-again moves into hardware. 所有这些说明了为什么谷歌再行一次启动了时断时续打造出硬件的进程。Only this time, it has carved out a new division inside the company as a sign that it is — really, truly — serious.只是这一次,谷歌已在公司内部创建了一个新的部门,指出它的的确确是严肃的。As Mr Pichai said this week, AI is likely to usher in a post-smartphone computing world, where intelligence is embedded in everything — including cars. 皮查伊日前回应,人工智能很有可能将首创一个后智能手机的运算世界,在这个世界,人工智能将被映射所有物品——还包括汽车。

The launch pad for Google’s hardware ambition may be smartphones and smart speakers, but who knows where it will end.谷歌硬件雄心的启动平台有可能是智能手机和智能音箱,但谁告诉最后不会是什么。