Do you remember how much buzz Siri generated upon the release of the iPhone 4S? Despite the fact that the device featured a host of upgrades and much better built-in camera, the public seemed almost obsessed with the female-voiced digital assistant that would talk to and respond to the user's commands. Soon after, other personal assistants followed such as Google Now and Microsoft's Cortana, which improved upon the ground that Siri had treaded to bring even more advanced functions for a digital assistant to serve. Now it appears that Siri's former engineers, currently working with a stealth startup called Viv Labs, are working on a brand new type of artificial intelligence to fuel the artificial intelligence for an assistant capable of delivering almost anything users request – before they even ask for it.
“Siri is chapter one of a much longer, bigger story,” says one of the co-founders of Viv Labs, Dag Kittlaus. Kittlaus helped create Siri alongside Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham, but now the group has set their sights on machine learning protocols that will help the artificial intelligence system operate on an entirely different tier than any of its competitors.
“Google Now has a huge knowledge graph,” explains Kittlaus, “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 team is hoping to answer questions like these through a multi-step machine learning process.
The AI that Viv labs is working on is designed to break apart complicated commands and analyze them line-by-line, to understand what types of objects a user is talking about and how they relate to one another. The quick and efficient program is then able to run these words through its algorithms to deliver answers utilizing Internet searches and various phone apps in only a fraction of a second. Viv Labs has not set a release date yet for the artificial intelligence that could very well define digital assistants for the next decade or more, but the fact remains that this project will be highly influential once it is released.
Edited by Alisen Downey