“Ultimately, none of these issues may prove as insurmountable as the ones that Google has already overcome by virtue of its enormous search database, knowledge of the real world, cloud computing infrastructure and army of Ph.D.s who work on voice recognition and natural language processing. Currently, the everyday magic of understanding voice commands is carried out almost entirely in the cloud, because processing human speech is difficult enough that even a sophisticated smartphone doesn’t have the processing power to do it at a high enough level of reliability.
That means voice commands issued to Google’s hardware and software are recorded, shot into the cloud and parsed into next steps, rather than being handled by the device itself. “For speech recognition, it’s a very data intensive thing,” says Huffman. “We use giant neural network things that are spread across many servers.” Which means that when we talk to our phones, there really is someone listening to our every command—just not an intelligence we’d recognize as human.”
I go back and watch this sketch by Joe Wengert at least twice a year. It’s just perfect. One of those sketches just thinking about the game formulated into a sentence makes me laugh: “Shop owner slowly and patiently tries to make sense of the nonsense his staff of giggling teen girls has been posting on the cork board.”