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From Echo to Siri, why AI-based voice recognition is the new big thing in tech

Ford CEO Mark Fields (R) and Greg Hart, Ford's vice president for Amazon Echo and Alexa Voice Services, speak at a press conference on CES Press Day, January 5, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada ahead of the CES 2016 Consumer Electronics Show. CES, the annual consumer electronics and consumer technology tradeshow in Las Vegas boasts some 2.2 million net square feet (204,386 square meters) of exhibition space. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK / AFP / ROBYN BECK        (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
Ford CEO Mark Fields (R) and Greg Hart, Ford's vice president for Amazon Echo and Alexa Voice Services, speak at a press conference on CES Press Day, January 5, 2016.

Voice-recognition based AI is proving to be the next frontier for big tech development.

Voice-recognition based AI is proving to be the next frontier for big tech development.

It's part of a growing field called conversational computing. The goal? To design voices in our devices that have the ability to act as the perfect personal secretaries, companions and assistants. 

Since phone hardware isn't changing drastically, developers are putting their energy into this new field of tech. This might sound familiar to the automated voice in the iPhone; Apple's Siri has actually fallen behind competitors like Amazon, Google and Facebook; Amazon's "Echo" is extremely popular; and Google is focusing a lot of energy on the AI in its first smartphone, Pixel - which has an assistant built in.

But what, exactly, are designers doing behind the scenes? And how are they creating versions of Siri that are more intuitive, intelligent, and personalized?

Guests:

David Pierce, senior writer at WIRED, who has written about voice recognition tech and AI

Stacey Gray, Policy Counsel at Future of Privacy Forum, a non-profit organization that focuses on emerging tech and privacy. She has written extensively about voice activation tech and privacy concerns

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