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Tim Cook Challenges Graduates to ‘Think Different’ in Duke University Commencement Address

Apple CEO Tim Cook today delivered the 2018 commencement address at his alma mater Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

Cook challenged students to “think different” rather than accept the status quo, and to leave the world better than they found it, by following in the footsteps of leaders like Steve Jobs, Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr. He also reflected on Apple’s commitment to the environment and privacy.

An excerpt from his speech:

The pace at which progress is possible has accelerated dramatically. Aided by technology, every individual has the tools, potential, and reach to build a better world. That makes this the best time in history to be alive. Whatever you choose to do with your life, wherever your passion takes you, I urge you to take the power you have been given and use it for good. Aspire to leave this world better than you found it.

I didn’t always see life as clearly as I do today. But I’ve learned that the greatest challenge of life is knowing when to break with conventional wisdom. Don’t just accept the world you inherit today. Don’t just accept the status quo. No big challenge has ever been solved, and no lasting improvement has ever been achieved, unless people dare to try something different. Dare to think different.

I was lucky to learn from someone who believed this deeply—someone who knew that changing the world starts with following a vision, not a path. He was my friend and mentor, Steve Jobs.

Steve’s vision was that great ideas come from a restless refusal to accept things as they are, and those principles still guide us at Apple today. We reject the notion that global warming is inevitable—that’s why we run Apple on 100 percent renewable energy. We reject the excuse that getting the most out of technology means trading away your right to privacy. So we choose a different path: collecting as little of your data as possible, and being thoughtful and respectful when it’s in our care.

Cook’s commencement address was similar to those he has delivered at a number of other universities in recent years, including at his undergraduate alma mater Auburn University in 2010, at George Washington University in 2015, and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last year.

Cook is a 1988 graduate of Duke’s Fuqua School of Business and a member of the university’s Board of Trustees.

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Here’s what we’re reading, watching, playing, and listening to this week


How we’re spending our leisure time.

Everyone has a bit of quiet downtime once in a while. Whether you’re sitting quietly at home or trying to relax on a plane or just giving your busy mind and hands a break, it’s important to relax.

A good way to do that is to read a book, listen to some music or watch a movie or show. See what’s caught our attention for the week of May 12th.

Ara Wagoner

steven-universe-light-distortion-s8.jpg? Prepare to have your minds blown.

When it comes to most TV shows, I’m a fast-and-binge kind of girl. I’ll watch a ton of episodes in the span of a week or two, and then I won’t watch the show again for months when I have a new crop of episodes to binge on. This is especially true of shows with erratic release schedules like Steven Universe. Steven Universe as a show has a lot of layers, a lot of drama, and a fair bit of surface stupidity that I like to skim off as I watch. Well, this week was the week to dive back in, because we got our last episode of the spring and WHAT. AN. EPISODE.

Most shows are lucky if they pull off one episode that makes you question everything that came before, that completely changes everything in a show’s history and universe. Steven Universe has already had a few of these, but ‘A Single, Pale Rose’ is on a new level. If you’ve fallen off the SU bandwagon before, it’s time to climb back on, because things are going to get insane this summer.

See Steven Universe on Google Play

Marc Lagace

We got an official date for Arrested Development Season 5 and I’m super excited. The new season will drop on Netflix May 29 and I’m sure I’ll binge watch it over the course of a weekend.

In the meantime, I’ve been watching the freshly remixed version of season 4, which was recut by series co-creator Mitch Hurwitz to transform the character-centric episodes (necessary because of conflicting actor schedules) into something that better resembles the first three seasons from the original run on Fox.

If you haven’t watched Arrested Development at this point, you can catch the entire series on Netflix. And even if you have seen it before, it’s a show that rewards repeat viewings.

Oh, and check out the cool Star Wars/AD crossover from May 4th.

Joe Maring

Throughout my life, I’ve had numerous friends and family members tell me that I just had to check out Monty Python. I always sort of blew these recommendations off thinking I wouldn’t have any interest in it, but after catching Monty Python and the Holy Grail in theaters this past weekend, I’ve fallen in love with the comedy troop.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect going into the movie, but I ended up laughing through nearly the entire thing. I’ve already begun quoting it, and I’m pretty sure my fiance is getting tired of hearing “I’m being repressed!” and “‘Tis but a scratch” every day since.

I’m excited to watch more movies from the group, but I’m not sure where to go next. If you’ve got any recommendations, I’ll keep an eye on the comments below!

Tom Westrick

This week, I’ve made a dedicated effort to watch stuff that I’ve ripped to my Plex library long ago, rather than watching anything “new.” Among these movies I’m watching for the first time is Blazing Saddles — and yes, I deserve every ounce of scorn for not seeing this movie sooner. I’ve seen it now, and I love it. A lot. Another of my favorites from this back catalog has been Ingrid Goes West. That movie struck a chord because it seems we’re all chasing the allure of digital approval — how many likes or retweets or comments we get. Ingrid Goes West is the story of that taken to the extreme.

I also started reading the Infinity War comic story to see how it matches with the movie. To avoid spoilers, I’ll just say the movie is a faithful recreation, minus some characters that aren’t in the MCU.

Your turn

What are YOU reading, watching, or listening to this week? Let us know in the comments!

Update, May 12, 2018: This is a weekly series where we tell you what we’re into, so check back every weekend!


Cookie AutoDelete is my new favorite Chrome extension


You can control all your cookies with one easy-to-use tool and that makes it the best extension ever.

A few days ago, I discovered the best Chromebook extension ever made. It crushes cookies using some simple rules and now I don’t have to dig in and do it myself whenever I get a little twitchy.

What is a cookie? When you browse the internet, you get bombarded by little bits of information called HTTP cookies. Your browser stores them and they can be really helpful, especially when you visit the same place on the web over and over. The thing is, they don’t just contain information your browser reads — they also hold data that websites can read if they are looking for them. Some cookies exist only to track you and that’s why Facebook, days or weeks laer, can put ads for things you’ve looked at on the bottom of some random website. It’s more than a little creepy.

I freely admit I get a little paranoid when it comes to online security. I don’t wear a tinfoil hat or anything (because secret government quantum entanglement communication signals can go right through tinfoil) but I also don’t like anything happening that I don’t know about. Like those nasty little tracking cookies. I’ve always wanted an easy way to delete some cookies without having to go through a bunch of steps to do it. And now I can. Hallelujah.

OMG the settings are perfect


Cookie AutoDelete) won’t do anything by itself when you install it. That’s another thing I like. So many things to like in one place. You have to enable “Auto-clean” which deletes every cookie when you close the tab or the browser. That’s a little drastic and Cookie AutoDelete has an awesome way to deal with it — whitelists and greylists.

When you visit a website and open the extension you can see every individual cookie that it uses. 👍💯. Beside each one is a button to add it to the whitelist or the greylist. If added to the whitelist, the cookie is never deleted and can live until it expires. The grey list lets a cookie persist until you close the browser so having a million Amazon tabs open because you can’t decide which USB-C cable to buy is easy. Can I get a like for easy?

(Buy this set of USB-C cables from Aukey and save yourself two hours of uncertainty. Trust me.)

You can export and import whitelists and greylists, see how many cookies a site is using via the icon, clean all cookies from the same domain (like, and clean things by hand through the pop-out extension window. This is the best extension ever and using it is more fun than Pokémon Go. Maybe that’s just me.

Even if you don’t think this is better than Pokémon it’s a great way to maintain a tiny bit of your privacy and keep websites from tracking you whilst you do your internet. Go on and install it.

Download Cookie AutoDelete (free)


The best Moto E5 Plus cases to keep your budget phone beautiful

Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

If you’re looking for a budget handset with long battery life, then there’s really only one phone for you — the Moto E5 Plus. With a massive 6-inch screen, modest specs, and an enormous 5,000mAh battery, this is a cheap phone that just keeps going and going. But despite all that long-term power, the Moto E5 Plus won’t fare well against concrete, asphalt, or any outside surface. A protective case is an absolute must to make sure that your budget phone lasts until your next upgrade. We’ve put together a list of the best Moto E5 Plus cases that you can buy to make sure your phone lasts and looks pretty while doing it.

Olixar Ultra-Thin Clear Case ($10)

A clear case is a great option for anyone who wants a modicum of protection that doesn’t detract from the original design of their phone. Olixar‘s ultrathin clear case is a great addition to this lineup, and an excellent choice for you if you want to keep the design of the E5 Plus on display. It’s made from TPU, which has shock-absorbent qualities, as well as being soft enough to aid in grip. It’s superthin, and adds a minimal amount of bulk to your phone, which is especially important with that huge battery. It comes with a raised bezel around the outside of the display and camera to make sure the phone doesn’t rest on those vulnerable areas.

Buy one now from:

Mobile Fun

Skinomi Dark Wood Skin with Screen Protector ($16)

Still not keen on the idea of having even a thin case on your phone? Maybe a phone skin would be more your style. This skin from Skinomi is applied to the back of your phone, and while it won’t provide any protection against drops and bumps, it’ll stop scratches from marring the body, and the dark wood aesthetic lends a cool style. If dark wood isn’t your thing, Skinomi also boasts a huge range of other variants like brushed aluminum, light wood, and carbon fiber. Even better, this skin also comes with one of Skinomi’s TechSkin screen protectors for all-around protection.

Buy one now from:

Skinomi Amazon

Rnicy Flower TPU Case ($8)

Cases aren’t just for protection — they’re also great for reflecting your personal style. This case from Rnicy is a pretty standard TPU case with shock-absorbent qualities that reduce damage from drops, bumps, and scratches. It also provides additional grip. But the real draw here is the selection of designs emblazoned on the back of each case. They’re bright, colorful, and show off your style to the rest of the world. Each case has been treated to reduce wear-and-tear on the design, and can even be washed and dried before being reapplied to your phone.

Buy one now from:


Dretal Slim Bumper Case ($8)

The edges of a phone are far more likely to hit the ground first during a drop, so it’s especially important to keep them well insulated. Dretal’s bumper case uses soft and shock-absorbing TPU to dull the energy from drops and stop them from damaging your phone. Even better, it also comes with a hard PC back panel that protects against scratches and other hazards, while also being completely clear so you can still show off your phone’s style. There’s also a raised edge to elevate your phone from surfaces and a finish that improves grip on your phone.

Buy one now from:


KuGi Anti-Slip Case ($9)

Looking for something with more of an executive look? This anti-slip case from KuGi could be right up your alley. It’s made from our old friend TPU, so you can expect it to be durable and capable of taking a blow, while also aiding in grip. KuGi has added more than a few features to help in that though, including a series of cuts down either side of the case, and a stylish textured back panel. That back panel looks like leather, but it’s actually just TPU again — but don’t let that put you off, as it feels great and looks even better. There’s an area to attach a lanyard if you want real drop-proofing, and it’s slim and comes in other colors if you’re not taken with the blue.

Buy one now from:


Idea Line Heavy Duty Protector ($9)

Forget those ultrathin cases — you want protection and utility in equal measure, and you don’t care who knows it. This case comes with a two-layer construction of a TPU inner shell and hard polycarbonate outer shell to strike a great balance of protection from a variety of hazards, including drops, bashes, and scratches. There’s a raised edge along the outside of the case to elevate your phone from surfaces, and it also comes with a belt clip so you can easily secure your phone without needing to use a pocket. The horizontal kickstand allows you to place your phone down to watch a video or two. It even comes with a tempered glass screen protector for all-around protection. It’s big and bulky, but with everything it adds, that’s easy to overlook.

Buy one now from:


Poetic Revolution All-Around Protective Case ($17)

A phone like the E5 Plus is great when you’re expecting to be without a charger for a period of time, and simply need your phone to last as long as possible. If that’s the case, then you might also need it to be as well-protected as possible too, so whether you’re out camping, hiking, or are just extremely careful, you might want to consider this case from Poetic. It’s extremely solid, made from a combination of hard PC and soft TPU for a great balance against threats — but the protection doesn’t stop there. It also comes with built-in screen protection and dust traps for all the ports. If you need great protection at a price that won’t break the bank, then this is the case for you.

Buy one now from:

Poetic Amazon

Still struggling to figure out which of Motorola’s new E-range is for you? Check out our Moto E5 Plus vs. E5 Play head-to-head comparison to see which is better, or find out about the rest of Motorola’s 2018 smartphone range.

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A.I. and Google News: The push to broaden perspectives

There is no editorial team at Google News. There is no building filled with hundreds of moderators monitoring the thousands of stories hitting the web every second, making sure the full story is presented. Instead, Google uses artificial intelligence algorithms, as well as its partnerships with fact-checking organizations providing headlines from credible, authoritative sources.

“Humans are generating the content,” Trystan Upstill, Google News engineering and product lead, told Digital Trends. “We think of the whole app as a way to use artificial intelligence to bring forward the best in human intelligence. In a way, the A.I. is controlling this fire hose of human stuff going on.”

“We think of the whole app as a way to use artificial intelligence to bring forward the best in human intelligence.”

A.I. is a big part of the redesigned Google News app, which was recently announced at the annual Google I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California. The algorithms filter or demote stories after detecting the spread of misinformation, and they also understand terms and fragments of text coming through the news cycle, aligning them with fact checks from partner organizations.

But one of the A.I.’s main tasks is to provide a full picture of major, nuanced stories through a feature called “Full Coverage.” It’s a small button you can press on stories, which will lead you to similar articles from a variety of publications — including ones you do not follow or may not like. The main section of Google News shows content tailored to you, but “Full Coverage” does not respect your likes and dislikes — everyone sees the same information pulled together by the A.I.

That includes modules for fact checks, frequently asked questions, a timeline of events, international coverage, and even tweets from primary sources. Everyone reading “Full Coverage” sees the same information, which Upstill said is crucial.

“The core premise we have is that in order to have a productive conversation about something, everyone basically needs to be able to see the same thing,” he said.

While the breadth of data the algorithms pull is impressive, it’s entirely on the user to click on the small “Full Coverage” button to read more perspectives on the topic at hand. It’s why the button features Google’s red, green, blue, and yellow colors — it stands out from a page that’s mostly black and white.

“Fundamentally, we’re trying to build tools that are easy, that people can use to develop their understanding,” Upstill said. “A part of the challenge for people to break out of their bubbles and echo chambers is that it’s just hard; it’s hard work, and we set out to make that easy.”

Pulling together a variety of sources has always been a part of Google News’ roots. The desktop service began right after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, when people were scrambling to find as much information as they could about the tragic event.

“It came to the table with this idea that in terms of understanding a story, you shouldn’t read a single article,” Upstill said. “You should read a set of articles around that story to really position what you’re reading. That is a key message that resonates with people even today, in this age of people having increasingly polarized views.”

“You should read a set of articles around that story to really position what you’re reading.”

Google has been criticized for helping people stay in their bubbles. Search results are personalized based on location and previous searches, and people end up seeing what they want to see rather than the full picture. Upstill said Google isn’t in the business of censorship, and “in Search, if you come in and say ‘give me the fake news publication’ or type ‘,’” it will show up. But with Google News, Upstill said you shouldn’t find disreputable sources.

The new Google News app is currently rolling out on both Android and iOS, and the desktop redesign will go live early next week. Both will share the same features, but the desktop version will have a different format.

Editors’ Recommendations

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  • Machine learning? Neural networks? Here’s your guide to the many flavors of A.I.
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Google may soon require Android manufacturers to push regular security updates

Google is getting a little more serious about security updates. The company held its annual Google I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California, May 8-10, where it revealed that it would be working on ways to make it easier for manufacturers to bring security updates to their phones.

Perhaps even more important is the fact that Google will be tweaking the agreement it has with manufacturers to include security updates — meaning that contractually, to use the official version of Android, manufacturers may have to stay up-to-date with the latest Android patches.

“We’ve also worked on building security patching into our OEM agreements,” Google revealed at a session at Google I/O, according to XDA-Developers. Now this will really … lead to a massive increase in the number of devices and users receiving regular security patches.”

That’s a pretty big change to how Google has done things in the past. Google releases security updates every month, and normally manufacturers get the patches a month in advance — which is why some manufacturers are able to release the updates on the same day as Google. To date, however, Google hasn’t required companies to push updates to their devices, though larger companies often push the updates to their flagship devices.

There aren’t a ton of details about the program just yet. For example, we don’t yet know if manufacturers will have to release security patches every month, like Google — though if we had to bet, we’d assume that they will. After all, Google doesn’t want Android devices to stay unpatched. As a report from XDA-Developers notes, it’s also currently unclear if Google will put provisions in place to make sure that manufacturers follow through in releasing the security updates. It was recently reported that some manufacturers had been telling customers that their phones were up to date when they weren’t — and that’s something Google probably wants to avoid.

If Google does move ahead in ensuring manufacturers stick to security updates, it could help make all official Android devices around the world a lot more secure — which is a big deal in an era of hacks and data mining.

Editors’ Recommendations

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Verizon quietly launches startup Visible, which offers unlimited data for $40

There’s a new mobile service provider on the block and as it turns out, it’s being backed by a player with plenty of experience. Visible is a new startup from Verizon that offers super low-cost service that is — get this — unlimited. Folks in the U.S. can get unlimited data, messages, and minutes for just $40 a month, which is almost 50 percent less than the average monthly cellphone bill of $73 in the United States.

Better still, Visible purports not to throttle service for users who truly take advantage of the unlimited offerings. Many of the incumbents in the space (including Verizon) have faced scrutiny for placing a cap on video quality in order to maintain their unlimited offerings. But Visible is promising not to do anything of the sort, which could be a major win among customers.

As it stands, however, Visible isn’t exactly widely available. In fact, the only way to take advantage of the new service is for a current Visible customer to send you an invitation. Only then will you be able to access the Visible app and begin the onboarding process. It’s also limited exclusively to owners of unlocked iPhones. So even if you have an Apple device but are currently linked to, say, T-Mobile, you won’t be eligible for Visible. That said, the startup notes that it’s hoping to extend access to Android users as well, and may ultimately work with phone companies to provide Visible-specific devices.

“We have been really, really happy with the customer interest so far,” Visible CEO Miguel Quiroga told CBS in an interview. He added that phones “can certainly be an opportunity in the future, but it’s still early.” The executive did not provide details on exactly how many users Visible currently has, but seeing as it’s still early days for the startup and access is quite exclusive, it’s unlikely numbers are high.

That said, with help from Verizon, Visible could soon be making a major dent in the market. Currently, Verizon is the most popular wireless service provider, with just over 150 million customers. And as it turns out, the company has been toying with the idea of Visible for quite some time.

“This is something that’s been the seed of an idea for a year or so,” Minjae Ormes, head of marketing at Visible, told TechCrunch. Although Ormes did not reveal how much Verizon ultimately contributed to the business, the executive team is made up largely of ex-Verizon employees, including Quiroga.

“The way I would think about it … we are a phone service in the platform that enables everything that you do. The way we launched and the app messaging piece of it. You do everything else on your phone and a lot of time if you ask people, your phone is your life,” Ormes said. The thinking was, “let’s give you a phone that you can activate right from your phone and get ready to go and see how it resonates.”

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NASA will send a tiny drone helicopter to fly through the Martian skies

After landing several miniature dune buggies on Mars to cruise around the surface of the planet, NASA has decided it wants a birds-eye view next time. The Mars Helicopter, a tiny remote-control dual-rotor drone, will make the trip to the red planet stowed in the belly pan of the Mars 2020 Rover.

Once on the surface, the six-wheeled rover will deploy the small chopper in a suitable location, allowing it to charge its batteries and run through a variety of pre-flight tests before making history in the thin Martin atmosphere.

“The ability to see clearly what lies beyond the next hill is crucial for future explorers. We already have great views of Mars from the surface as well as from orbit,” said Thomas Zurbuchen of NASA in an announcement. “With the added dimension of a bird’s-eye view from a ‘marscopter,’ we can only imagine what future missions will achieve.”

The spindly Mars Helicopter, which has been in development since 2013, has a box-like fuselage about the size of a softball and weighs approximately four pounds. Solar cells will charge the tiny drone during the day, and an internal heater will help it endure the cold Martian nights. Its counter-rotating blades will spin at almost 3,000 rpm, about 10 times faster than a similar craft here on Earth.

“The atmosphere of Mars is only one percent that of Earth, so when our helicopter is on the Martian surface, it’s already at the Earth equivalent of 100,000 feet up,” said Mimi Aung of JPL. “To make it fly at that low atmospheric density, we had to scrutinize everything, make it as light as possible while being as strong and as powerful as it can possibly be.”

Once the copter is ready to go, a 30-day test flight campaign will commence, beginning with a simple hover in place and leading to more extensive reconnaissance missions lasting as long as 90 seconds. “We don’t have a pilot and Earth will be several light minutes away, so there is no way to joystick this mission in real time,” said Aung. “Instead, we have an autonomous capability that will be able to receive and interpret commands from the ground, and then fly the mission on its own.”

The Mars 2020 mission, scheduled for launch aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral in July 2020, is expected to reach the red planet in February 2021. As cool as the mini chopper is, it’s not a crucial component of the mission.

Successful tests would open the door to more aerial observation and exploration during future missions, however. “After the Wright Brothers proved 117 years ago that powered, sustained, and controlled flight was possible here on Earth, another group of American pioneers may prove the same can be done on another world,” said Zurbuchen.

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Ride with confidence on a 3D-printed bicycle tire that will never go flat

For cyclists, there are few things worse than getting a puncture halfway through a ride. OK, getting hit by a truck would obviously be a lot more problematic, but as far as injury-free scenarios go, a sudden puncture is surely one of the most deflating experiences a cyclist can have (apologies, couldn’t resist it).

Raising the hopes of keen cyclists everywhere, Berlin-based BigRep recently put one of its industrial 3D printers to work to create a bicycle tire that lets you dump the pump.

Claiming to have created the world’s first 3D-printed airless bicycle tire, BigRep’s Maik Dobberack told Cnet the design uses a custom-made thermoplastic elastomer capable of incorporating flexibility into 3D-printed objects. Looking at its performance in the video (above), the tire is certainly very springy while at the same time offering extreme-temperature resistance and durability.

Dobberack said his company’s 3D printer could conceivably print different tires according to the kind of ride you wanted to embark on. For example, you could have various pairs for different weather conditions, another for rough terrain, and a set for riding on regular roads.


Test cyclist Marco Mattia Cristofori took BigRep’s tires out for a spin in the German capital and afterwards described the ride as “very smooth,” which is precisely what you want when you’re out on your bike.

But if you’re already thinking, “Just tell me how I can get my hands on these groovy tires,” then you’re going to be disappointed. BigRep said the main aim of the project is to highlight the myriad possibilities that can be had with large-scale 3D printing, and for now at least, the tire remains a concept design.

There is some cause for hope, though. Bridgestone — a company that knows a thing or two about tires — has been working on a similar design for the last seven years. It may not be 3D-printed, but like BigRep’s tire, it’s airless and so never needs pumping up.

Bridgestone unveiled the latest design of its funky-looking tire in 2017, and said that if trials proceed smoothly, they could be transporting you about your neighborhood as early as next year. We’ll keep you posted.

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Before Google’s lifelike Duplex A.I., these chatbots paved the way

How sad do you have to be to have a conversation with a computer? Here in 2018, that’s not even a question any more. At Google I/O, the world’s biggest search company debuted its new Google Duplex tool: an A.I. that’s capable of making phone calls and doing things like booking you in for haircuts or securing you a table at the hottest restaurant in town. Best of all? Thanks to its hyper realistic synthetic voice — right down to the realistic, human-like “uh-huhs” and pauses — the person on the other end of the line probably won’t even realize they’re talking to a bot.

It might seem super futuristic, but Duplex is really just the latest development in the history of chatbots: A.I. systems designed to replicate human interactions. These bots have been around for decades — they just haven’t always been as sophisticated as the one Google recently showed off. Here’s a quick recap of the 10 most significant milestones we passed to reach this point:

The Turing Test

Alan M Turing and colleagues working on the Ferranti Mark I Computer, 1951 Science & Society Picture Library/Getty Images

Most people had never seen a computer in 1950. Those who had seen one typically viewed them as gigantic calculating machines that took up entire rooms and weighed more than a fully-stocked light aircraft. Back then, the idea that you might one day interact with a computer like you would a person took a pretty big speculative leap. One person willing to make that leap was the pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing.

In his 1950 paper, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” Turing examined the question of whether or not a machine could be capable of thinking. He proposed a hypothesis to test this: an imitation game in which a computer must try and fool a human into thinking that he or she was communicating with another person.

Turing never built an actual chatbot to test his theories, but the Turing Test has inspired many subsequent attempts to build chatbots. Most famously, it’s the basis for the annual Loebner Prize.


In the mid-1960s, an MIT computer scientist named Joseph Weizenbaum created ELIZA, a so-called computer psychotherapist. Conversations with ELIZA were carried out via text, with users typing a sentence and ELIZA then reflecting it back to them in language which either supported or questioned their statement.

Despite the fact that ELIZA didn’t actually “understand” the topics it discussed, Weizenbaum was surprised by how readily his students poured their hearts out to the computer — sharing everything from their own personal heartbreak stories to fears of academic failure.

HAL 9000

HAL remains arguably the world’s referenced chatbot, despite only existing in the realms of science fiction. Memorably stealing the show in Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, HAL is the all-knowing A.I. who controls the operations of the spacecraft Discovery One.

Unlike the text-based ELIZA, HAL is capable of interacting with users via voice recognition and natural language processing. Described as “foolproof and incapable of error,” HAL nonetheless goes wrong and, in the process, spawns one of computing’s most memorable slogans: “I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”


Created in 1972 by psychiatrist Kenneth Colby at Stanford University, PARRY was an attempt to model a person — in this case, a person with paranoid schizophrenia — in machine form. PARRY was a more complex chatbot than the earlier ELIZA, with a more pronounced personality and more complex conversational abilities.

At a conference in 1972, PARRY and ELIZA were connected over ARPANET, an early iteration of the internet, where they carried out the world’s first chatbot-to-chatbot conversation.


Rollo Carpenter’s Jabberwocky is an example of a smarter second generation of chatbot. Designed in 1981 with the goal of simulating “natural human chat in an interesting, entertaining and humorous manner,” Jabberwocky didn’t have many practical applications, but was nonetheless a source of great entertainment.

Particularly impressive was its ability to learn new responses and context based on its conversations, rather than relying on a static database of answers.

Knowledge Navigator

A bit like HAL 9000 — minus the whole murderous streak — “Knowledge Navigator” was an influential vision of computing’s future, created by Apple in 1987. Illustrated through a series of slickly-produced video vignettes, Knowledge Navigator was a proposed chatbot-based system in the form of an onscreen butler software agent.

As Apple imagined it, users would interact with the Knowledge Navigator through spoken, real world commands. Despite possessing its own personality, it was primarily intended to be used for information retrieval and executing commands.

Apple eventually delivered a form of Knowledge Navigator with Siri (which we’ll discuss later.) However, this tantalizing glimpse forward has since inspired many people outside of the Cupertino company who are interested in building productivity-focused chatbots.


Yes, we hate to include it on this list, but Clippy was likely the first chatbot that many people reading this article ever used. A cheerful dancing paperclip character who appeared in Microsoft Office 1997, Clippy popped up on-screen whenever users set out to carry out a task like writing a letter.

Clippy had the potential to be useful, but rarely managed to be. It was a limited example of the kind of A.I. agent many of us rely on today, but frustratingly poorly executed.

Seattle-based illustrator Kevan J. Atteberry, who designed the character, still has a message on his website crediting him with creating “probably one of the most annoying characters in history!” Clippy died on his way back to his home planet in 2003.

IBM Watson

Watson is a question-answering artificial intelligence-based computer system developed by IBM. Named after IBM’s first CEO, Thomas J. Watson, IBM Watson famously won the game show Jeopardy! against former champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings.

After the game, Jennings held up a sign reading: “I for one welcome our new robot overlords.” Today, Watson is used for a variety of non-game show applications, ranging from drug discovery to generating recipes for cooking.

According to IBM, the project’s goal is to make computers “interact in natural human terms across a range of applications and processes, understanding the questions that humans ask and providing answers that humans can understand and justify.”


Originally started as a five-year, 500-person DARPA project, the more familiar form of Siri eventually landed on Apple’s iPhone 4s, debuting just one day before company co-founder Steve Jobs passed away.As you’re likely aware, Siri can interact using spoken commands, and is able to perform a variety of useful functions — from looking up local weather information to booking a table at a restaurant.

Even if it’s rapidly surpassed by other smarter A.I. assistants, Siri deserves credit for finally bringing the technology into the mainstream.

Smart speakers

Amazon Echo. Google Home. Apple’s HomePod. If you don’t already own one of these talkative smart speakers, you may well soon find yourself in the minority. Aided by breakthroughs in A.I. fields like deep learning, today’s smart speakers finally live up to the promise of functional chatbots.

They can understand what you’re saying, make you laugh with a quick joke, and help you perform a million-and-one other useful functions. And, as the latest Google IO event showed, they’re getting smarter all the time.

Editors’ Recommendations

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  • A.I. and Google News: The push to broaden perspectives
  • Here’s everything we saw at the action-packed Google I/O 2018 keynote
  • Speak to me, robot: Startling Google Duplex demo raises endless concerns

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