The Best of 2012 AI: A Look Back at The Year’s Top Virtual Assistants, Lurching Giants and Augmented Reality

The New Year is here! There is no better way to jumpstart 2013 artificial intelligence but by looking back at the previous year’s high points.

Several remarkable technological innovations of 2012 can be traced back to AI. Big names and newcomers alike partook in various advancements in this side of technology. Here is a quick journal of the best and the weirdest of the year that was for AI.

APPLE: Siri

Apple’s secret sauce to the success of iPhone 4S marked a start of a new era in virtual assistantship. Siri, the infamous Apple iOS’ intelligent personal assistant is one of artificial intelligence’s highlights of 2012.

Men behind SRI International originally founded Siri or Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface. Apple acquired Siri in 2012. Since then, it has been an integral part of the iOS brood since iOS 5. But unlike a glorious 2011, Siri faced a few roadblocks for 2012. Nevertheless, it has been a constant target of other tech giants’ eye.

Fresh from the phenomenal sales of iPhone 4S, Siri was welcomed by wanna-bes in January. But the party was short-lived as things took a different turn in the successive months.

The last month of the first quarter was a bit sour for Siri. A certain Frank Fazio filed a class lawsuit versus Apple for selling an expensive iPhone with falsely advertised virtual assistant. According to the case filed, Siri failed to deliver what was initially promised in ads. Soon after, American Civil Rights Union expressed security-related concerns with Siri. They fear that the program might be sending sensitive information of owner and owner’s contacts to other users. There were malicious incidents that have been tied to Siri in October. Apple immediately took action to stop it from whoring around.

But perhaps one of the biggest letdowns of Siri happened at the peak of Hurricane Sandy’s wrath. It mistook “Hurricane Sandy” for a hockey team. This pinch of opportunity allowed Google’s new search app to shame Siri, which initially misheard the phrase, but delivered outstanding and useful results. This Voice Search app from one of Apple’s fiercest competitors only solidified rivals Siri with improved data science and language models.

Kristen Nicole, SiliconANGLE’s news editor noted that Siri is no longer the only mainstream AI tool in the market.

IBM: Watson

In its drive to a “smarter planet”, IBM progresses Watson even more this year. This AI breakthrough of the Big Blue came into prominence after beating all-time Jeopardy champions in 2011. This year, it edged out a trio from the premiere Harvard University. There is no iota of doubt that Watson is getting smarter each second. IBM has massively placed money and time on R&D to further develop this machine.

Watson has arched its way to banking and finance as it snatched a gig at Wall Street for big-time lender Citigroup. It serves the organization by processing financial, economic and clients’ data for specific digital banking efforts. The AI tool proved there is more to come. After a few months, Waston joined healthcare IT industry as WellPoint uses its expertise as a medical consultant in September.

In an interview at The Cube during the IBM Information In Demand 2012, Naugi Halim of IBM Software Group shared their big plans of Watson and hints big things for this supercomputing AI technology. The same event has also paved the way for John Furrier (SiliconANGLE.com founder) and Dave Vellante (Wikibon.Org founder) to get insights from Stephen Gold, Director of Marketing for IBM Watson about the role of the supercomputer in Big Data.

Dubbed as the future “Jarvis”, Watson is one of the most exciting entities in artificial intelligence to watch out for this year and beyond.

GOOGLE: Driverless Car and Google Glass

The years of research and wild aspirations of Eric Schmidt and company have finally landed on the road. Stealthily, Google test-drove its driverless car in a secret location in California. Wall Street Journal captured how it feels to actually drive a self-driving car, in-action.

Driverless cars are not the lone AI weapon at Google’s arsenal. Search giant’s big boss Sergey Brin made a gusty demo of Google Glass as seen again in The Cube. Google Glass, with its odd design, has summoned great deal of attention—a testament that the AI appeal is getting to the people. Kyt Dotson of SiliconANGLE.com realizes its promise and proposed 5 possible innovations for this wearable computer.

Aside from thriving with supercomputing, these innovations clearly says a lot about how Google is also into the augmented reality—a view of the real world with the use of computer-generated sensory. Dotson once again seized a good angle of this subject in his latest article. While augmented reality is in search of that killer app, Google’s Ingress is already creating big buzz in the tech community. This multiplayer AR game is still in closed beta and is a geo-discovery app that sort of acts as a tour guide.

Robots at Work

Another thought-provoking AI updates of 2012 are robots invading the corporate walls and the working class. Along with the prediction that world’s food consumption will double by 2050, farmers are already seeking aid of robots to do the hard labor and plant seeds in the field. Pundits are also looking at a Bring-Your-Own Robot trend sooner or later in professional arenas.

While all the financial geeks of Wall Street partied at home for the holidays, the robots equipped with financial algorithms took on the job. The use of supercomputing machines in the stock market is still a subject of most economic debates.

In the next 365 days, experts are seeing more aggressive ventures and breakthrough AI technologies. Are we going to finally see Google’s driverless cars on the road? Is this the year where we start with the Bring Your Own Robot trend? Will the next few months let us speak and work with electronic teammates in the office? Let us wait and see. Here are at SiliconANGLE.com, we will be keeping you updated just in case