Feeds

Stephen Hawking nixes Intel voice upgrade plan

Physics luminary 'quite upset'

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Stephen Hawking scuppered an Intel plan to upgrade his voice, sending researchers at the chip giant into a desperate effort to emulate a defunct speech-synthesis chip.

The A Brief History of Time author's nixing of Intel efforts to bring his robotic voice up-to-date was revealed at an innovation awards ceremony hosted by the chip-baker in Dublin.

Hawking was presented with the Innovator's Courage award, but was unable to accept it in person, as he had a prior engagement in Los Angeles. A message from the black-hole innovator was played instead.

Intel's Justin Rattner was then presented with the 21st Century Industrial Innovation Award, something the vendor's CTO appeared unprepared for, saying "I had no idea I was going to follow Stephen Hawking."

Rattner then asked the audience if they'd noticed an improvement in the voice quality of the preceding Hawking message, explaining that Intel had developed an "upgrade" to the voice-synthesis system used by the Cambridge boffin which is based on an "ancient voice-synthesis chip".

Unfortunately, Rattner continued, Hawking had objected to the proposed upgrade. Unsurprising, as the robo voice has become a large part of Hawking public image.

"He got very upset," confessed Rattner, who described Hawking as a "friend."

This sent Intel into reverse, forcing Rattner to detail a bunch of the chip giant's researchers to a "special project to emulate a chip that no longer exists".

The results? A high-definition version of the same robotic voice, and the preservation of brand Hawking. Rattner said further details would be revealed in coming months. But if Intel is successful, the rest of us should notice absolutely no difference. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.