The brains behind Siri create an even smarter AI

Talk to me, Siri

In some ways Siri today is a little bit like the Macintosh circa 1984: everyone realizes the potential, but the technology is not yet as good as it could be.

With that in mind, several of the creators of Siri have set up a new startup outside of Apple called Viv Labs, aimed at creating a next gen virtual assistant capable of understanding sentences far more complex than the kind that you would normally feed to Siri.

Two of the company’s three founders, Dag Kittlaus and Adam Cheyer, founded Siri, but quit working on it shortly after joining Apple.

Viv will grow and learn from the collective knowledge of its user base, and has supposedly already become adept at dealing with complicated queries 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” or, “On the way to my brother’s house, I need to pick up some cheap wine that goes well with lasagna.”

The team behind Viv are interested in developing AI to run on a range of future devices, from smartphones to smart TVs, rather than selling to a single company.

With that being said, however, it sounds like Viv could be a perfect pickup for Apple, since Apple has already made clear its ambitions for Siri as a future digital hub for the connected iHome.

  • MacAdvisor

    I would be happy if they got Siri to correctly answer simple question before finding the cheapest flight from San Francisco to Paris. For example, I was recently on the Silverado Trial in the Napa Valley and asked, “Where is the nearest Home Depot?” Siri replied with the locations of several restaurants nearby (given this was the Napa Valley, one could almost spit out wine in any direction and hit a decent a restaurant). When I asked it to call “Friends for Survival Work,” it can’t find the listing in my address book. I am a native Californian and speak rather unaccented standard American English, so I think there is much work before Siri can attempt the complex sentence.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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