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What's Up With 'Big Data'?

If Yahoo! doesn't have that kind of scratch, neither does Facebook -- let alone Twitter and the rest of the small fry.

I once talked to a friend of mine who has been working in the now-hot area of speech recognition services for 15 years about how he views a service like Siri and whether it could one day retrain all of us to ask a personal assistant for information instead of typing in a query into a search box.

He thought it was definitely possible but he said something very interesting to me about how they are going about that goal.

"Google has a lot of really amazing speech rec people working for them. In fact, they're much better than the speech rec people employed at Apple, in my view," he said. "But Apple is amazing in AI. They're way ahead of Google in AI."

Apple's obviously making a big bet on AI. Is it working?

Most have written off Siri. "It doesn't work," they say. The version 2 is better but not enough to knock people's socks off.

However, as with the new Maps service, Apple's collecting tons of data every day from Siri and Maps. It's then throwing its AI at those data full force -- finding the relationships that will form the basis for real intelligence down the line.

The promise of "big data" will be realized, but it's going to happen through AI, with lots of money and lots of time.

At the time of publication the author had positions in YHOO and GOOG.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
Eric Jackson is founder and Managing Member of Ironfire Capital and the general partner and investment manager of Ironfire Capital US Fund LP and Ironfire Capital International Fund, Ltd. In January 2007, Jackson started the world's first Internet-based campaign to increase shareholder value at Yahoo!, leading to a change in CEOs in 2007. He also spoke out in favor of Yahoo!'s accepting Microsoft's buyout offer in 2008. Global Proxy Watch named Jackson as one of its 10 "Stars" who positively influenced international corporate governance and shareowner value in 2007.

Prior to founding Ironfire Capital, Jackson was President and CEO of Jackson Leadership Systems, Inc., a leadership, strategy, and governance consulting firm. He completed his Ph.D. in the Management Department at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business in New York, with a specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Governance, and holds a B.A. from McGill University.

He was previously Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at VoiceGenie Technologies, a software firm now owned by Alcatel-Lucent. In 2004, Jackson founded the Young Patrons' Circle at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, which is now the second-largest social and philanthropic group of its kind in North America, raising $500,000 annually for the museum. You can follow Jackson on Twitter at or @ericjackson.

You can contact Eric by emailing him at
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