Is Siri AI?

The ubiquitous voice assistant we've all heard but perhaps not understood - is it AI or perhaps something else?

Is Siri AI?

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We’ve all heard of Siri, the mobile virtual assistant that lives in your iPhone. If not your phone, at the very least you know one person in the Apple ecosystem. The ubiquitous nature of Apple products in todays world means you have heard her voice at one point or another – but who is she? What is she? Is Siri AI?

What is a voice assistant AI?

A voice assistant is an artificial intelligence designed to help the user perform everyday tasks from the comfort and convenience of your mobile device. Be sure to read “How to use Google Assistant reminders” and “How to disable Google Assistant on Android” for more information on this topic. This is usually a smart phone but can be a tablet or laptop, WatchOS devices or even desktop computer. Think of it as a personal assistant who never sleeps, never takes days off, and answers your questions instantly. The accuracy of any AI assistant is only as good as it’s data source, but as Apple’s virtual assistant can crawl the internet to look for answers (faster than you can Google them) it’s probably more reliable than a human virtual assistant too.

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It can complete tasks such as settings reminders and alarms, checking your calendar, problem-solving and providing information. By remembering the habits and preferences of the user, Siri can make various aspects of your daily life a little easier.

How does Siri AI work?

The conversational AI, built into iOS and MacOS is effectively a cloud-based service. You talk to it, and it talks back. But in between those two steps it’s doing something very clever. Using voice recognition algorithms, your phone is able to codify what you’re saying. This natural language interpretation accounts for accents and dialects, based on hours of speech examples in each of these human speech variants.

The internet service then takes that codified transliteration to a (really) big server at Apple HQ in North Carolina. This server represents the physical hardware upon which the deep neural network, Siri itself, is run. Or at least, that’s how it used to work up until 2 years ago – now Siri can run locally on your iPhones own hardware. The power of deep learning technology is right there in your pocket (or your hand if you are, poetically, reading this on an iPhone).

Machine learning algorithms designed for natural language processing (NLP) enable the chatbot to respond to a query in a way you understand. This is called natural language generation. The resulting response is sent back out of your speaker, and this all happens in a matter of seconds.

Is Siri AI?

All that is to say, yes Siri is AI. The conversational ability to understand and respond with natural human language, and with responses that were not pre-programmed, is the unique domain of artificial intelligence.

Although, arguably, Siri is Susan Bennett – the voiceover artist who recorded the voice of Siri back in 2005.

What alternatives are there to Siri?

Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa are the two best alternatives to Apple’s Siri AI.

Steve is the AI Content Writer for PC Guide, writing about all things artificial intelligence. He currently leads the AI reviews on the website.