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Siri’s founders are building a new AI assistant

Siri’s founders are building a new AI assistant


Viv could become everything that you've always wanted from Siri

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Siri blew a lot of people away when it was first introduced by Apple in 2011, but just about everyone who used it quickly realized just how limited the AI really was. Not much has changed for Siri in the years since, but now, according to Wired, several creators of Siri are trying to make an AI that's far more advanced — only they're doing it outside of Apple at a new startup called Viv Labs. Their new AI is going by the name Viv, and it sounds as though they want it to be everything that iPhone users have always looked for from Siri: capable of understanding complex sentences, and able to actually get stuff done for you.

Viv learns from everyone using it

Viv will reportedly be able to tap into other apps and services to book flights, hail cabs, look up information, and much more. But most importantly, it'll apparently even be able to perform tasks that it hasn't specifically been coded to do. Wired reports that Viv is designed to learn as it goes: every instance of Viv will be able to tap into a singular brain in the cloud that's been learning from every user, theoretically allowing it to tackle a wide variety of subjects. Already, it's said to be capable of properly handling complicated flight requests like, "Get me a ticket to the cheapest flight from SFO to Charles de Gaulle on July 2, with a return flight the following Monday." It's unclear, however, if Viv will need specific support from third-party developers or if it'll be able to tap into other apps on its own.

Other queries that Viv is said to be capable of resolving include, "What is the population of the city where Abraham Lincoln was born" (though Wolfram Alpha can handle that), and, "On the way to my brother's house, I need to pick up some cheap wine that goes well with lasagna." It's easy to see how these requests need to be broken down by a computer in order to properly understand them, but it's something that our smartphone personal assistants by and large can't do yet. In general, Siri still needs to stick to simple sentences, such as, "Set a timer for 10 minutes." If Viv can in fact handle complicated queries like these, it might easily prove itself to be far more useful.

Two of Viv's three founders, Dag Kittlaus and Adam Cheyer, founded Siri but left work on it shortly after joining Apple; Viv's third founder, Chris Brigham, was an early addition to Siri's team. Rather than selling to a single company, they'd ultimately like to see their new AI end up on a multitude of devices, from phones to PCs to TVs, according to Wired.

As the core group behind the AI to kick off the trend of smartphone assistants, Viv certainly has the team to dream up such a vision, but the huge and outstanding question of whether they can actually do it still remains. There's no word on when you'll be able to use Viv and just how much it'll be able to do at launch. Viv's founders seem to believe that they're on to something — but given everyone's experience with Siri, they still have plenty to prove.