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First Time A Computer’s Artificial Voice Orders A Pizza [Video]

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When we were first introduced to Siri, not many people were overly excited. After all, an artificial voice (or a synthetic one) had been done before. What should have impressed us was really the intelligence behind it. The way we embraced Siri was with a bit of skepticism. Making a computer talk like a real human has always been a task that humans have found appealing. We have come a long way since we first heard a computer utter a few words, but how far?

The first attempt at making a computer talk dates back several decades. Of course, the quality of the speech was nothing compared to what we are able to produce today. However, in 1974 someone attempted to order a pizza by solely using an artificial voice generated from a computer. As anyone might imagine, the initial result was that the person who answered the phone hung up since it took a long time for the computer to generate the artificial voice responses. But as the video says, eventually someone took it seriously enough to make computer history.

The computer doing the calling is called Alexander, and it was developed by engineers at the Artificial Language Lab at Michigan State University. Since their first stumbling attempts to order a pizza with an artificial voice failed miserably, they had to come up with another approach. Instead of instantly trying to order a pizza, they programmed Alexander’s artificial voice to present himself and tell the person on the other end that he used an assisting artificial audio device to help him communicate. That along with telling the person that he had to be patient lead to a successful pizza order.

The interesting thing is that even though the computers were infinitely less powerful then, and of course a whole lot less human-like, they still managed to make the person on the other end believe a real person was connected to the artificial voice generated by the computer. So was the pizza actually delivered? Yes, the pizza arrived at the Artificial Language Lab and the project was a success. Too bad though that Domino’s chance to make history went down the drain the same second the guy taking the order hung up the phone.

Historic First Pizza Order By An Artificial Voice

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Author: Richard Darell

Richard Darell is the founder and CEO of Bit Rebels, a multifaceted online news outlet that reports daily on the latest developments in technology, social media, design and everything geek. Today this media entity welcomes more than 2.5 million unique visitors per month and is considered the go to place for people in constant motion. As an Internet entrepreneur, he is dedicated to constantly trying to develop new ways to bring content faster and closer to the end user in a more streamlined way. His excitement for statistics has allowed him to further develop systems that continuously produce accurate and fast-paced analytics to better optimize the approach by which Bit Rebels presents news and content. His graphic design background has proven to be an important tool when designing new systems and features for Bit Rebels since the development of solid and stable code depends entirely on their structure and implemented procedures. Richard currently resides in Stockholm, Sweden and directs the Bit Rebels offices in both Stockholm and Atlanta. You can reach Richard at richard@bitrebels.com

2 Comments

Harold Gardner

January 25th, 2013

Order a pizza first…then get a date…

[Reply]

K. Doug Allen

January 25th, 2013

Watson, some quickly! … bring pizza! A. Bell

Milestones in communication!

[Reply]

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