RealDoll maker envisions a day your ‘companion’ will talk back to you


Her film Joaquin Phoenix
We don't know if A.I. plus RealDolls would make Spike Jonze's film Her more or less creepy.
Photo: Warner Bros.

This might be the most divisive news of the day: RealDoll creator Matt McMullen is currently working with artificial-intelligence scientists to create a fusion between digital assistants like Apple’s Siri and synthetic companions. It could be the most amazing news you’ve ever heard, or it might be terrifying and make you feel like spiders are crawling on you.

Regardless of how much or little it creeps you out, however, it’s definitely interesting.

Apple scoops up A.I. startup that analyzes users’ emotions


Less emojis, more AI.
Photo: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

Apple’s latest acquisition is of a small artificial intelligence company called Emotient. The startup has technology that analyzes people’s emotions through their facial expressions.

Apple “buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” Apple’s spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal. That’s the typical statement Apple gives when snatching up small companies.

It’s not clear yet what Apple has in mind for Emotient, but we sure can speculate.

Future Siri could switch user profiles based on voice


Play classic arcade games right on your Apple TV.
Siri's ability to recognize different voices could be big for technology like Apple TV.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

As Apple rolls out Siri beyond the iPhone and into shared devices like the iPad and, most recently, Apple TV, Cupertino’s engineers have been working on a way of letting its voice activation technology pick up individual users, and offer them customized options based on their past preferences.

Published today as the patent “User profiling for voice input processing,” the technology would allow Apple to make better use of Siri (and voice recognition in general) as it moves into new fields like home automation and vehicles.

Apple is willing to bet big on artificial intelligence


Come with us if you want to CultCast.
Next year's WWDC, anyone?
Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

Apple is ramping up its hiring of artificial intelligence experts in an attempt to compete with companies like Google.

According to a new report, Apple’s number of machine learning gurus has tripled or quadrupled in the past few years, and Cupertino is currently in the middle of a hiring spree for even more.

Forget Skynet, how about iNet?