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article imageSiri creators unveil Viv, a digital assistant 'for everything'

By James Walker     May 10, 2016 in Technology
The creators of Siri, Apple's digital assistant for the iPhone, have unveiled a new artificial intelligence. Known as Viv, the AI is smarter than Siri and aims to redefine the limits of human-computer interaction, connecting "everything" together.
Siri creator Dag Kittlaus gave the first public demonstration of Viv at TechCrunch's Disrupt NY conference. Kittlaus and Adam Cheyer created the artificial intelligence that powers Siri, before the technology was bought by Apple for $200 million in 2010 for use on the iPhone.
The pair have been secretly developing Viv for the past four years. The new AI aims to be better than Siri, capable of understanding complex natural language voice queries and interacting with a diverse range of third-party online services. Viv, according to Kittlaus, is an "intelligent interface for everything."
Viv is able to interpret questions far beyond what Siri can understand. Kittlaus gave multiple examples of Viv giving responses to questions as specific as "will it be warmer than 70-degrees near the Golden gate bridge after 5pm the day after tomorrow?"
Viv is built with this kind of query in mind, requiring the layering of several different variables to provide an accurate answer. It has to consider several different times, with varying levels of specificity, a place and the temperature.
Viv also has a heightened sense of context and the ability to remember context between utterances. Unlike rival digital assistants, Viv interprets follow-up questions the same way a human would, letting you have a more natural conversation with the AI without needing to continually repeat the subject of questions.
Viv gains a deep understanding of its user that combines with its third-party service integration to let you do more with your voice. The AI can respond to commands like "Send my mom some flowers" as it can work out who "mom" is and connect to a third-party service to order the flowers. All of this happens seamlessly from the user's perspective. Kittlaus' live demos ran flawlessly, although reliability can't be assessed properly until users get to try Viv.
The AI has one more standout feature, something Kittlaus is calling dynamic program generation. Viv is capable of writing its own code to complete tasks it's unsure how to respond to. Once it has understood an intent, the app writes its own program to fulfil the task in the simplest way possible.
Because Viv writes its own code, the role of the developer is changed. "Instead of having to write every code instructed, you're really just describing what you want it to do," Kittlaus said.
The AI is designed to be platform and device agnostic, compatible with all services and open to the user. "Viv's goal is to be ubiquitous so it will understand your preferences and history as you engage with it on your mobile device, or in your car, or with your smart device at home," said Adam Koopersmith, a partner with Pritzker Group Venture Capital, one of Viv's investors."
Kittlaus didn't announce when Viv will be launched, instead saying it will begin to appear "later this year." The company is already surrounded in rumours that it could be bought out again, either by Google or Facebook, potentially creating a repeat of Siri's development six years ago.
More about siri, viv, Ai, artificial intelligenec, machine learning
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