Siri is a great addition to Apple's iPhone, but she has a few very clear limitations. When you ask her to book a flight, for example, she'll point you toward travel websites rather than giving you flight options. Sometimes, she simply won't understand your request, even when you ask her to purchase an item that Apple sells. Since its launch, Apple has worked on Siri's abilities, but a new artificial intelligence might soon eclipse her altogether.
A team at Viv Labs says they are working on an AI that completely gets rid of Siri's limitations. Siri is built to perform tasks that Apple engineers have implemented. The new program, on the other hand, will be able to teach itself, removing all limitations in its capabilities.
Viv cofounder Dag Kittlaus was actually on the team that helped create Siri, along with cofounders Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham. They have spent the last two years working on the Viv project.
The founders are referring to Viv as a "global brain" that users would connect to the way they do electricity -- the AI would serve as a utility rather than a feature. The hope is that it will help power devices and apps.
“I’m extremely proud of Siri and the impact it’s had on the world, but in many ways it could have been more,” Cheyer said. “Now I want to do something bigger than mobile, bigger than consumer, bigger than desktop or enterprise. I want to do something that could fundamentally change the way software is built.”
Many other Siri-like technologies do exist, such as Google Now. However, like Siri, they are all limited by responding only to requests they have been programmed to. Viv generates its own code as it goes, without the help of programers. This means it can respond to complicated requests by generating a program that links together third-party information sources. And it does so in less than a second.
Viv has very few limitations, including needing a training period (which sometimes only requires a few minutes). This is used to learn specific jargon, but as Viv grows, it will becoming more knowledgable and gain a better understanding of certain topics. The founders created Viv on three principles -- Viv will be taught by the world, Viv will know more than what it is taught, and Viv will learn something new every day. And, as more people use it, the smarter it gets.
Kittlaus envisions Viv becoming something of a digital assistant who can predict what you will ask for before you actually make the request. For example, if someone tells Viv they are drunk at 2am, the program will automatically contact the preferred car service and send it to the user's location.
“Intelligence becomes a utility,” Kittlaus said. “Boy, wouldn’t it be nice if you could talk to everything, and it knew you, and it knew everything about you, and it could do everything?”
Viv is still in the development stages, but the technology could potentially be linked to just about everything, including your TV, smartphone and even your car.