Although Siri has learned a lot of new tricks since the service was launched October 2011, the AI only perform tasks Apple engineers explicitly implement. While Siri is beholden to the Apple ecosystem, a new stealth startup called Viv Labs is aiming to build a better AI, one that can teach itself to "answer almost any query and perform almost any function" using your "personal preferences and a near-infinite web of connections."
Viv Labs is co-founded by Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham, all of whom worked on Siri during their time at Apple. Named after the Latin word for live, the team is hoping that some day Viv will be used in a bevy of Internet of things devices thanks to its innate ability to make co-relations based on data, a feature that is currently unavailable in services like Google Now, Siri and Cortana.
Google Now has a huge knowledge graph—you can ask questions like 'Where was Abraham Lincoln born?' And it can name the city. You can also say, 'What is the population?' of a city and it'll bring up a chart and answer. But you cannot say, 'What is the population of the city where Abraham Lincoln was born?'" The system may have the data for both these components, but it has no ability to put them together, either to answer a query or to make a smart suggestion. Like Siri, it can't do anything that coders haven't explicitly programmed it to do.
The idea behind Viv is that the AI can overcome these challenges by generating its programming on the fly. If you ask the AI a question like "Book a ticket when Manchester United are in town", it will look through the available sources of information — in this case the football team based out of your city, Manchester United's match schedule, and ticketing vendors for ticket availability — and give you the relevant results, all in a fraction of a second. Cheyer says that this functionality will change the way we look at software.
I'm extremely proud of Siri and the impact it's had on the world, but in many ways it could have been more. 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.
To learn more about the capabilities of Viv, head over to Wired's feature on Viv Labs from the link below.