It’s Friday morning and you’re thinking about rewarding a week’s worth of hard work by escaping the fluorescent lights of the office for a lunch hour in the sun. Eating alone is no fun, of course, so you might as well invite a good friend. You pick up your new Apple iPhone 4S smartphone and press and hold the home button. At the bottom of the screen, a little microphone appears. “What can I help you with?” it asks. It beeps. You begin to speak. “Send text to Erica: Let’s have lunch.” In an instant, your intended message appears as tech on the screen, loaded into an abbreviated version of the phone’s standard SMS form. Erica’s name has populated the necessary field. Without missing a beat, it asks: “Ready to send it?” You reply “Yes.” And off it goes. It couldn’t be easier, short of the phone reading your mind. The entire process takes three seconds at most. In reality, the process you just experienced is the culmination of decades of intense interdisciplinary research. What was a nearly seamless transaction between your mouth and your phone was, in fact, a complex series of computational decisions designed to understand what took you, as… Read full this story
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