“When Apple announced the iPhone 4S on October 4, 2011, the headlines were not about its speedy A5 chip or improved camera. Instead they focused on an unusual new feature: an intelligent assistant, dubbed Siri,” Steven Levy reports for Wired. “Though Apple has since extended Siri’s powers — to make an OpenTable restaurant reservation, for example — she still can’t do something as simple as booking a table on the next available night in your schedule. She knows how to check your calendar and she knows how to use Open­Table. But putting those things together is, at the moment, beyond her.”

“Now a small team of engineers at a stealth startup called Viv Labs claims to be on the verge of realizing an advanced form of AI that removes those limitations,” Levy reports. “Whereas Siri can only perform tasks that Apple engineers explicitly implement, this new program, they say, will be able to teach itself, giving it almost limitless capabilities. In time, they assert, their creation will be able to use your personal preferences and a near-infinite web of connections to answer almost any query and perform almost any function. ‘Siri is chapter one of a much longer, bigger story,’ says Dag Kittlaus, one of Viv’s cofounders. He should know. Before working on Viv, he helped create Siri. So did his fellow cofounders, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham… Viv is an open system that will let innumerable businesses and applications become part of its boundless brain.”

“For the past two years, the team has been working on Viv Labs’ product — also named Viv, after the Latin root meaning live. Their project has been draped in secrecy, but the few outsiders who have gotten a look speak about it in rapturous terms. ‘The vision is very significant,’ says Oren Etzioni, a renowned AI expert who heads the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. ‘If this team is successful, we are looking at the future of intelligent agents and a multibillion-dollar industry,'” Levy reports. “The core Siri team came to Apple with the project. But as Siri was honed into a product that millions could use in multiple languages, some members of the original team reportedly had difficulties with executives who were less respectful of their vision than Jobs was. Kitt­laus left Apple the day after the launch—the day Steve Jobs died. Cheyer departed several months later. ‘I do feel if Steve were alive, I would still be at Apple,’ Cheyer says. “I’ll leave it at that.” (Tom Gruber, the third Siri cofounder, remains at Apple.)”

Tons more in the full article – recommended – here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]