Siri, Cortana Are Listening: How 5 Digital Assistants Use Your Data - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Data Management
News
3/2/2016
07:06 AM
Michelle Maisto
Michelle Maisto
Slideshows
50%
50%

Siri, Cortana Are Listening: How 5 Digital Assistants Use Your Data

Learn more about how digital assistants including Amazon Alexa, Facebook M, Google Now, and Apple's Siri are rewriting the rules around data privacy and sharing.
Previous
1 of 11
Next

(Image: Сергей Хакимуллин/iStockphoto)

(Image: Сергей Хакимуллин/iStockphoto)

In August, Facebook introduced its new digital assistant, M, to a limited number of users, whose response was unlike anything Siri or Google Now had faced. People were flummoxed over whether M was actually an artificial intelligence (AI) win for Facebook or if there was a human on the other side of the screen.

The answer: Both.

A tremendous amount of learning is involved in AI, and Facebook's new baby was taking its first wobbly steps, with adult supervision. A Wired profile explained that M used AI to field the initial response to every question, but that a person approved or adjusted every answer before it went out. With every adjustment or implied thumbs up, M learned and got a little better at answering on its own.

There are a few key things happening that speak to the bigger picture of big data and analytics today, when a technology like M -- or Cortana or Alexa -- can do something like send your mom a bouquet on Mother's Day.

One is that the software is learning processes and finding out how to make connections. Because thousands of other people have made the same requests, it's already made corrections and figured out efficiencies that have nothing to do with any individual user, but rather the learning that can come from the enormous datasets being created when thousands or millions of people are contributing data points.

[See 10 Productivity Hacks to Kick-Start Your Day.]

Another key thing that these assistants are learning about each of us is how to better sell to us.

Still another is that we consumers are getting increasingly used to the idea of sharing data, like our credit card number, our mom's name and address, and many other data points that we may or may not realize can be of value to an algorithm and a company like Facebook or Apple.

That willingness, along with our understanding of the larger value we receive in return, will drive a similar and inevitable shift within enterprises, as each of us in our professional roles needs difficult questions answered, such as knowing whether we'll meet a sales forecast, or tasks accomplished, such as thwarting hackers.

Enterprises, particularly in regulated industries like government and healthcare, are increasingly understanding and embracing the benefits that come with sharing data and contributing data -- in secure ways -- to create larger datasets that can reveal critical and otherwise unavailable insights.

This first wave of digital assistants may be all it takes to warm consumers to the concept and push more enterprises beyond legacy, pre-Internet thinking about data, how it should be treated, and what it can make possible.

In the following pages we take a look at digital assistants from five of the largest tech players and how they're using your data to perfect their AI. Take a look and let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Rising stars wanted. Are you an IT professional under age 30 who's making a major contribution to the field? Do you know someone who fits that description? Submit your entry now for InformationWeek's Pearl Award. Full details and a submission form can be found here.

Michelle Maisto is a writer, a reader, a plotter, a cook, and a thinker whose career has revolved around food and technology. She has been, among other things, the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise Magazine, a reporter on consumer mobile products and wireless networks for ... View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Previous
1 of 11
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
tjgkg
50%
50%
tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
3/10/2016 | 9:46:42 AM
Already there
So far i have not found a need to use these "assistants". I find that most of the information I will ask for has a widget on the Today screen or some other app that i can be sure of getting the correct information. It is fun to ask Siri what last night's Yankee score was, but i get all that now.
Slideshows
9 Steps Toward Ethical AI
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  5/15/2019
Commentary
How to Assess Digital Transformation Efforts
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  5/14/2019
Commentary
Is AutoML the Answer to the Data Science Skills Shortage?
Guest Commentary, Guest Commentary,  5/10/2019
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
2018 State of the Cloud
2018 State of the Cloud
Cloud adoption is growing, but how are organizations taking advantage of it? Interop ITX and InformationWeek surveyed technology decision-makers to find out, read this report to discover what they had to say!
Video
Current Issue
A New World of IT Management in 2019
This IT Trend Report highlights how several years of developments in technology and business strategies have led to a subsequent wave of changes in the role of an IT organization, how CIOs and other IT leaders approach management, in addition to the jobs of many IT professionals up and down the org chart.
Slideshows
Flash Poll