The rise of language-modelling artificial intelligence (AI) has caused a shift in the tech industry, and now, voice assistants are being criticized for their lack of intelligence and functionality.
In an interview with The Financial Times, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently criticized the technology, stating that they are “dumb as a rock” and “just don’t work.” While the hype around digital assistants was real, the models did not live up to their initial promise.
Nadella’s comments come after Amazon reportedly laid off a significant number of employees from its Alexa division. While the digital assistant hype was real, with all major tech companies having their own version, the models didn’t live up to their initial promise.
Nadella did not compare digital assistants to Microsoft’s new Bing Search, which is powered by OpenAI. However, Bing Search is more advanced than digital assistants like Siri and Alexa. For example, while Siri can only find a pre-made workout program online, Bing Search can create a personalized workout plan using its training material. Bing Search can also create a grocery list or travel itinerary by remixing relevant content.
Currently-integrated digital assistants are difficult to monetize post-purchase and lack the sci-fi feel that their creators envisioned. However, Microsoft competitors are looking to use generative AI tools to improve their existing digital assistant models.
Siri co-creator Adam Cheyer believes that generative AI will enable greater breadth, flexibility, and complexity, leading to a “renaissance” in the digital assistant market.
While digital assistants have not lived up to their initial hype, there is still hope that generative AI tools can improve their functionality.