Former Siri Chief Bill Stasior Joins Microsoft to Lead AI Team

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Bill Stasior, Apple's former head of Siri development, has joined Microsoft as corporate VP of technology, reports The Information.


Starting this month, Stasior will lead an artificial intelligence group at Microsoft and will be reporting to Microsoft's chief technology officer, Kevin Scott.

A Ph.D. graduate in computer science from MIT, Stasior was head of Apple's Siri team for seven years, following the departure of Siri co-founders Adam Cheyer and Dag Kittlaus in 2012. Cheyer and Kittlaus had joined Apple when the company originally purchased Siri in 2010, but didn't stay long.

Stasior stepped down from his role as leader of Apple's voice assistant group in February, as part of a restructuring effort by John Giannandrea, Apple's senior vice president of machine learning and AI strategy.

Giannandrea was a prominent Google executive before being hired by Apple last year. With Giannandrea taking over the Siri team, Stasior was said to be stepping away from day-to-day management of Siri, yet remaining at the company. However, according to The Information, Stasior cut all ties with Apple in May.

Giannandrea's hiring came amid widespread criticism of Siri, which has shortcomings in comparison to AI offerings from the likes of Microsoft, Amazon, and Google. Apple made strides to improve Siri in 2018 under Giannandrea's leadership, with features like Siri Shortcuts in iOS 12.

Article Link: Former Siri Chief Bill Stasior Joins Microsoft to Lead AI Team
 

sidewinder3000

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I hope that improvements to Siri continue to accelerate the way they have the past year. My #1 request: the ability to teach Siri how you say a word by typing it in and then saying it. So frustrating when I say “pitcher” and Siri dictates “picture”. My #2 request: make internet requests more seamless and robust.
 

H3LL5P4WN

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I hope that improvements to Siri continue to accelerate the way they have the past year. My #1 request: the ability to teach Siri how you say a word by typing it in and then saying it. So frustrating when I say “pitcher” and Siri dictates “picture”. My #2 request: make internet requests more seamless and robust.

Sounds like an enunciation issue. I do the same thing, but apparently my yinzer accent isn't thick enough n'at to confuse her.
 

lunarworks

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I hope that improvements to Siri continue to accelerate the way they have the past year. My #1 request: the ability to teach Siri how you say a word by typing it in and then saying it. So frustrating when I say “pitcher” and Siri dictates “picture”. My #2 request: make internet requests more seamless and robust.
Eventually they're going to have to train these things on regional dialects.
 
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chfilm

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Eventually they're going to have to train these things on regional dialects.
The type and dictate to teach feature is really looooooooong overdue.
As is a better understanding of mixed language requests like when you have to say an English app title but are speaking German with Siri..
And then the multiple requests in a row without having to say “hey Siri” each damn time!
 
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GadgetBen

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Hmmm. Why would Microsoft want to hire a really poor, highly criticised ex Apple employee reporting directly to their chief technology officer?

Sounds like a perfect fit.
 
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AvisDeene

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Hmmm. Why would Microsoft want to hire a really poor, highly criticised ex Apple employee reporting directly to their chief technology officer?

Sounds like a perfect fit.

Maybe he is good at what he does and that the reason for Siri’s poor performance has nothing to do with his choices and all to do with Apple being super restrictive?
 

ElectricPotato

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AI Clippy: I see you are having a private conversation. Would you like to see the ads created from the recordings, err, I mean quality assurance evaluations?
 

loby

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Maybe he is good at what he does and that the reason for Siri’s poor performance has nothing to do with his choices and all to do with Apple being super restrictive?
This is not good for apple. Microsoft has already a decent group developing A.I. so if they hired him to lead their team he is probably not to blame for Siri issues (though of course the lead of the team should assume responsibility).

Sounds like too much politics at apple with operations taking the lead. Sounds like the 90's all over again...I guess it might be correct that history repeats itself and is a cycle...we will see how apple does in the next ten years...
 
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CarlJ

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I hope that improvements to Siri continue to accelerate the way they have the past year. My #1 request: the ability to teach Siri how you say a word by typing it in and then saying it. So frustrating when I say “pitcher” and Siri dictates “picture”.
I've long wanted Siri to support a meta-conversation of sorts, so I can say, "Siri, you're getting the name of the restaurant wrong - let me spell it for you", and then proceed to name the letters (likely with some more succinct syntax - "enter/exit spelling mode" or similar). And then, of course, associate the sound you had previously uttered with that spelling.

I also find it infuriating that, if there are multiple matches (say you know you want the third closest one of the store in question, because you know they have more selection or whatever) - if you say no to the first choice, Siri tries to sell you on the others, spending eons of time saying, "there's one on Mission Center Road, ... ... it's open until 9pm ... ... and gets three and a half stars ... ... does that sound like a good one?" (NO, DAMMIT, SIRI - and I just missed the exit I probably needed). I've also had Siri do this where it misheard the name of the Italian restaurant I requested, but it clearly got the general idea, so it starts ... slowly ... offering ... other ... random ... Italian ... restaurants, complete with ratings and hours. Related, if you yell obscenities at Siri when she finally gets around to prompting for a yes/no response, she gets the hint to stop the current agonizingly slow interaction.

She spends too much time thinking she's a helpful concierge, able to guide your choices, rather than simply a quick lookup service. Wait until the voice recognition and AI are really 100% before having her try to fulfill that role.
 
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GadgetBen

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Maybe he is good at what he does and that the reason for Siri’s poor performance has nothing to do with his choices and all to do with Apple being super restrictive?

Yeah you're right. Apple's stance on being restrictive is such a shame. It really does put annoying barriers up for consumer privacy.
 

Zxxv

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I hope that improvements to Siri continue to accelerate the way they have the past year. My #1 request: the ability to teach Siri how you say a word by typing it in and then saying it. So frustrating when I say “pitcher” and Siri dictates “picture”. My #2 request: make internet requests more seamless and robust.

You’ve been able to correct and train Siri for years. Just click the incorrect word and either choose from the list that appears or correctly type/replace the word yourself. Siri learns from this. Been available for years.
 

AvisDeene

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Sep 25, 2017
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Yeah you're right. Apple's stance on being restrictive is such a shame. It really does put annoying barriers up for consumer privacy.

No need for sarcasm, I wasn’t talking about privacy, I was just pointing out that the man shouldn’t be judged poorly for Siri’s performance because it was out of his hands since he’s been restricted by Apple.

We will see how good he is when he’s at Microsoft with less restriction and could then judge his performance.
 

sidewinder3000

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Sounds like an enunciation issue. I do the same thing, but apparently my yinzer accent isn't thick enough n'at to confuse her.
Nope. I have a neutral Midwest accent and have tried every possible variation of the word pitcher, and Siri is serially incapable of delivering the correct result. And my buddies who I text with about baseball on a daily basis have the same problem. So now, when we see “picture” during a Cubs game, we assume the texter meant “pitcher”.

And there are dozens of other words like that which Siri fails to understand. Siri needs mending. Specifically, a means to teach it pronunciation of often used, often misunderstood words.
[doublepost=1566335661][/doublepost]
I've long wanted Siri to support a meta-conversation of sorts, so I can say, "Siri, you're getting the name of the restaurant wrong - let me spell it for you", and then proceed to name the letters (likely with some more succinct syntax - "enter/exit spelling mode" or similar). And then, of course, associate the sound you had previously uttered with that spelling.

I also find it infuriating that, if there are multiple matches (say you know you want the third closest one of the store in question, because you know they have more selection or whatever) - if you say no to the first choice, Siri tries to sell you on the others, spending eons of time saying, "there's one on Mission Center Road, ... ... it's open until 9pm ... ... and gets three and a half stars ... ... does that sound like a good one?" (NO, DAMMIT, SIRI - and I just missed the exit I probably needed). I've also had Siri do this where it misheard the name of the Italian restaurant I requested, but it clearly got the general idea, so it starts ... slowly ... offering ... other ... random ... Italian ... restaurants, complete with ratings and hours. Related, if you yell obscenities at Siri when she finally gets around to prompting for a yes/no response, she gets the hint to stop the current agonizingly slow interaction.

She spends too much time thinking she's a helpful concierge, able to guide your choices, rather than simply a quick lookup service. Wait until the voice recognition and AI are really 100% before having her try to fulfill that role.
One of the more amusing rant/posts I’ve read in a while. I feel the same way.
 

sidewinder3000

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You’ve been able to correct and train Siri for years. Just click the incorrect word and either choose from the list that appears or correctly type/replace the word yourself. Siri learns from this. Been available for years.
Wow! Very interesting. I tried it a few times. Still hasn’t gotten Siri to readily understand “pitcher” vs. “picture” in a neutral sentence. If I mention the word baseball, or pitch in the same sentence, Siri’s comprehension of “pitcher“ goes way up, which is interesting because it indicates that Siri is using context to help decipher words.

That said, it’s still not as direct of a process as I’d like. It would be great too just be able to say “hey Siri, this is how I pronounce the word ____. And then be able to spell or type it, then she asks you to pronounce the word three times, and then she reads it back to you to confirm.

But thanks for the tip! I have already corrected her on that word six times using your method. Hopefully, eventually it starts to take affect.
 

CarlJ

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Feb 23, 2004
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Wow! Very interesting. I tried it a few times. Still hasn’t gotten Siri to readily understand “pitcher” vs. “picture” in a neutral sentence. If I mention the word baseball, or pitch in the same sentence, Siri’s comprehension of “pitcher“ goes way up, which is interesting because it indicates that Siri is using context to help decipher words.
Related, I have friends who have a daughter named "Elise". And every time they'd mention her in (Siri-transcribed) messages, it'd come out as "a lease" (regardless of pronunciation used, and making the sentences make no sense). Much like your "pitcher". I figured out that if we all added entries for Elise in the Contacts app (even though she's only 4 and won't have her own phone or email for years to come), Siri's chances of getting her name right went WAY up.

It'd be nice if the Siri section in the Settings app had a simple key/value list, where you could enter names/words, and hit a "record" or "train" button next to the word and say the name/word multiple times, to teach Siri whatever word(s) particularly causes you trouble with Siri. And I'd be totally okay with Apple uploading that list (with permission) to help improve Siri. (I also wouldn't mind there being some trigger phrase, like, "Siri, you're a ***** idiot", which, if you uttered the phrase, after Siri completely blowing parsing on some request, Siri would then meekly ask if you'd like the previous conversation, minus the trigger, sent to Apple to improve Siri's training - you'd think they'd get a much higher quantity of directly useful data that way than by taking random samples, because people would be motivated to upload all the problematic bits.)
[doublepost=1566342109][/doublepost]
Cortana is about to get a lot dumber.
That's mean, but I laughed :)
 
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Zxxv

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Wow! Very interesting. I tried it a few times. Still hasn’t gotten Siri to readily understand “pitcher” vs. “picture” in a neutral sentence. If I mention the word baseball, or pitch in the same sentence, Siri’s comprehension of “pitcher“ goes way up, which is interesting because it indicates that Siri is using context to help decipher words.

That said, it’s still not as direct of a process as I’d like. It would be great too just be able to say “hey Siri, this is how I pronounce the word ____. And then be able to spell or type it, then she asks you to pronounce the word three times, and then she reads it back to you to confirm.

But thanks for the tip! I have already corrected her on that word six times using your method. Hopefully, eventually it starts to take affect.

Settings/general/accessibility/speech/pronunciations

Record add your words. Enjoy and good luck.
 

sidewinder3000

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Jan 29, 2010
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Related, I have friends who have a daughter named "Elise". And every time they'd mention her in (Siri-transcribed) messages, it'd come out as "a lease" (regardless of pronunciation used, and making the sentences make no sense). Much like your "pitcher". I figured out that if we all added entries for Elise in the Contacts app (even though she's only 4 and won't have her own phone or email for years to come), Siri's chances of getting her name right went WAY up.

It'd be nice if the Siri section in the Settings app had a simple key/value list, where you could enter names/words, and hit a "record" or "train" button next to the word and say the name/word multiple times, to teach Siri whatever word(s) particularly causes you trouble with Siri. And I'd be totally okay with Apple uploading that list (with permission) to help improve Siri. (I also wouldn't mind there being some trigger phrase, like, "Siri, you're a ***** idiot", which, if you uttered the phrase, after Siri completely blowing parsing on some request, Siri would then meekly ask if you'd like the previous conversation, minus the trigger, sent to Apple to improve Siri's training - you'd think they'd get a much higher quantity of directly useful data that way than by taking random samples, because people would be motivated to upload all the problematic bits.)
[doublepost=1566342109][/doublepost]That's mean, but I laughed :)
Ha! Unfortunately when you swear at her right now, she just gets confused.

It's funny, I tried adding a bunch of baseball phrases, including the names of a bunch of Cubs players, a few years ago (because me and my friends text constantly during ballgames). It helped a little bit, but hasn't solved the problem. The solution you outlined is exactly what I've been hoping they'd do. We could wait 15 years for voice recognition to become perfect, and be accurate on 99.9% of words, or they could create a practical way to correct the small number of specific words that cause most of the stress and grief with Siri users right now.
 
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sidewinder3000

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Settings/general/accessibility/speech/pronunciations

Record add your words. Enjoy and good luck.
That's a really fun little tool, and I'm glad you shared it! Unfortunately, it's meant to help Siri pronounce words that she reads. It doesn't appear to have any way to teach her how to interpret or make a distinction on how she translates something that you speak when doing dictation. It helps her speaking skills but not her listening skills.
 
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Zxxv

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That's a really fun little tool, and I'm glad you shared it! Unfortunately, it's meant to help Siri pronounce words that she reads. It doesn't appear to have any way to teach her how to interpret or make a distinction on how she translates something that you speak when doing dictation. It helps her speaking skills but not her listening skills.

I still say keep tapping the word and correcting it when you speak to Siri. It’ll get the message after a while...I’m sure of it :)
 
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