Ex-Apple designer builds easy-to-use artificial brain

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The Brain by Mike Matas
Good call. We definitely want to teach the machines love before they become self-aware.
Photo: Mike Matas (via YouTube)

We may be a small step closer to the robot wars thanks to former Apple designer Mike Matas.

Matas’ previous work includes user interfaces for Apple’s Maps, Photos, and Camera apps, as well as the Nest smart thermostat. And he showed off his latest creation, an artificial brain called (appropriately enough) The Brain, via a quick demo on YouTube. It’s a neural network that with an expectedly sharp and clean interface, and in the video, he shows how he can teach The Brain to spit out emojis based on different shapes that he draws.

Check it out below.

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

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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

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Emojis
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

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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.