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About this Video

In this conversation between Siri designer Tom Gruber and NY Times writer John Markoff, we hear about the state of the art in Conversational Artificial Intelligence. They trace back the intellectual roots of Siri and look forward to what is possible as AI becomes ubiquitous in our lives. What could happen when machine-learned AI is everywhere — and what could go wrong?


About the Speakers

John Markoff

John Markoff

John Markoff joined The New York Times in March 1988 as a reporter for the business section. He now writes for the science section from San Francisco. Prior to joining the Times, he worked for The San Francisco Examiner from 1985 to 1988.

Markoff has written about technology and science since 1977. He covered technology and the defense industry for The Pacific News Service in San Francisco from 1977 to 1981; he was a reporter at Infoworld from 1981 to 1983; he was the West Coast editor for Byte Magazine from 1984 to 1985 and wrote a column on personal computers for The San Jose Mercury from 1983 to 1985.

He has also been a lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley School of Journalism and an adjunct faculty member of the Stanford Graduate Program on Journalism.

The Times nominated him for a Pulitzer Prize in 1995, 1998 and 2000. The San Francisco Examiner nominated him for a Pulitzer in 1987. In 2005, with a group of Times reporters, he received the Loeb Award for business journalism. In 2007 he shared the Society of American Business Editors and Writers Breaking News award. In 2013 he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in explanatory reporting as part of a New York Times project on labor and automation.

Tom Gruber

Tom Gruber

Tom Gruber is a product designer and entrepreneur who uses AI technology to augment human intelligence.  He was cofounder, CTO, and head of design for the team that created Siri, the first intelligent assistant for everyone.  When Siri was released by Apple in 2011, it was a watershed moment in the history of Artificial Intelligence, bringing AI to the mainstream user experience.  Now an integral part of Apple’s products, Siri is used more than 2 billion times a week in over 30 countries around the world.  At Apple for over 8 years, Tom led the Advanced Development Group that designed and prototyped new capabilities for Siri and related products that bring intelligence to the interface.

Tom promotes the philosophy of Humanistic AI, which he presented in a popular TED talk.  He served as founding board member of the Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society.

In previous lives, Tom applied AI to support collective human intelligence.  His research at Stanford in ontology engineering helped lay the groundwork for semantic information sharing and the Semantic Web. He invented HyperMail, the open-source software that turns email conversations into collective memories; HyperMail and its progeny have helped to create a dynamic conversational history of the Web.  He was founder and CTO of Intraspect Software, which pioneered the space of Collaborative Knowledge Management — software that helps large communities of professionals contribute to and learn from a collective body of knowledge. He designed and built RealTravel, a Collective Knowledge System where travelers from around the world share their experiences.

Tom has served as an advisor to pioneering companies in Social Networks (LinkedIn, Radar Networks), Collaboration (SocialText, Mindjet), and Semantic Search (Powerset / Microsoft and the Internet Archive).

He is passionate about underwater photography and ocean conservation.