Exclusive Interview with Luc Julia, co-creator of the Apple voice assistant SIRI
Luc Julia is the co-creator of the Apple voice assistant SIRI and author of the book “Artificial intelligence does not exist”.
Holder of a PhD in computer science from the National School of Telecommunications in Paris, Luc Julia is an expert in human-machine interaction. He led the development team at Apple’s voice assistant SIRI, was Technical Director at HP and co-founded a number of start-ups in Silicon Valley.
He is currently the Technical Director and Senior Vice President of Innovation at Samsung in Silicon Valley and leads the new AI research centre in Paris, where he is developing a new generation of “smart objects”.
His career started at SRI International where he created the Computer Human Interaction Center (CHIC!) and participated in the launch of Nuance Communications, today’s world leader in speech recognition.
He is the bestselling author behind the book “Artificial intelligence does not exist”, holds dozens of patents and is recognized as one of the top 100 most influential French developers in the digital world.
What is the difference between “artificial intelligence” and “augmented intelligence”?
Artificial intelligence is, all things considered, only a tool. Just like any tool, it is made for assisting us. In this case, to increase our intelligence, or more generally our capabilities.
How is SIRI, the Apple voice assistant that you created, different from the AI that you review in your book “Artificial intelligence does not exist”?
SIRI has nothing to do with an intelligent being, or with the representation conveyed through Hollywood and the movie “Her”. It is a tool that provides specific answers to a range of questions selected by its designers.
In your book, you challenge the cliché image that Hollywood has generated of how we think about AI. Do you think that, on the opposite, they are subconsciously preparing us for a future led by machines?
If they are preparing us for it they are wrong, because there is no basis for a potential takeover of the machines. Today, only humans can innovate and create these machines that we control entirely. When these machines are out an action, it’s because we’ve programmed them to do so.
You state that machines will never be able to surpass the human brain, because humans must feed them with data. Today, voice assistants enable us to perform a variety of tasks with minimal effort. How do you think this artificial input will affect human development over time?
The mental gymnastics of memorising phone numbers of loved ones lasted only for a century.
I don’t think we have become less intelligent since we no longer have to do it.
But, our brain is like another muscle in our body. Once we stop exercising it, it will begin to waste away. Education is as necessary to our brains as exercise is to our bodies.
Are there any differences between how the future of AI is perceived in Europe and across the Atlantic? What about the rest of the world (Middle East, Asia, etc.)?
There are, of course, cultural differences specific to each continent. But basically, all countries are able to contribute to the development and improvement of these new tools. Adoption may also depend on local laws that must be complied with.
More advanced AI technologies require higher energy consumption. Do you know any possible ways to reduce their ecological impact?
This is a problem we barely touch on today. The centralised nature of the methods used and based on Big Data, means that a small task consumes a disproportionate amount of power in comparison to a huge task.
We must move towards “small data” and find new methods of powering it. That is a major and necessary line of research for a real scaling of these technologies.
Which leaders inspire you and why?
Mathematicians / philosophers / scientists of the 17th century: Pascal, Descartes, Fermat who all paved the way to the Enlightenment.
What is your favourite quote?
“Cogito, ergo sum” / “I Think Therefore I Am”, René Descartes.
The exact reason why AI doesn’t exist is because it doesn’t think…
Interested in booking Luc Julia as a keynote speaker for your next event?
Credit picture: Youtube screenshot from the video: “France is AI 2018: Luc Julia – Should we be afraid of Artificial Intelligence?” click here to see the source.