Siri’s inventors are building a radical new Artificial Intelligence that does anything you ask

“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.]

30 Comments

    1. My first thought was, “Who’s going to be the first to make them an offer they can’t refuse?”

      Viv sounds like an incredibly ambitious project that could either be a major factor for a tech company (hopefully Apple, but unlikely given the co-founders’ comments), or could be the beginning of our collective downfall (the Skynet outcome). Of course, who’s to say that it will actually work as they intend it to?

      Here’s hoping it doesn’t end up being bought by Microsoft, Google, or Samsung …

    2. Apple is already going the route of GOOGLE talk and Cortana (MSFT)…. to rebuild Siri’s back end…

      The funny part is i remember Woz himself mentioning certain command and functions that Siri used to have that Apple disabled…

  1. Shame on Apple if they didn’t put an anticompetitive clause in the Siri purchase agreement. If such a clause does exist, Apple will already own whatever Viv has created after the dust from the lawsuit settles.

  2. Oh this is going to be great for Amurdercans, I can just imagine the commands those Amurdercans will be sending out to Siri:

    – need to invade a country, is Iraq near Ladenland?
    – need to go thermonuclear, where can some good plutonium be located?
    – need to torture people, how booked is Guantanamo Bay?
    – need to go out and kill a few people KILL KILL KILL, where is the nearest school?
    – someone is insulting our country using FACTS, is troll still appropriate to use as an insult instead of intelligent debate?

    of course the requests from the civilized world will be a bit different.

    – Dear Siri, I’d like peace on earth.
    – Dear Siri, thank you for sinking those troublesome spots, where is the first annual “Global Peace and Harmony” festival being held at this year?

      1. Colossus: the Forbin Project (1970)

        Colossus: This is the voice of World Control. I bring you peace. It may be the Peace of Plenty and Content or the Peace of Unburied Death.

        This future won’t happen if Microsoft buys Viv. They won’t get past the blue screen.

    1. “Siri, how can we prevent anonymous coward bigots from posting prejudiced, misleading and inaccurate things on MDN? Better yet, Siri, how do we convince them that they are entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts?”

      “Sorry, emmayche, but I only deal with things that are possible. Some people are just too far around the bend to be reached.”

      1. I guess that Siri and the AI behind just won’t be able to deliver anything you ask then. Tsk tsk tsk, oh well at least the journanalistic norm is maintained. Who needs facts then, it’s pure fiction, as fictional as the weapons of mass destruction is Iraq a few years ago, something that was report as a fact, as if the bigoted Amurdercans own them.

        1. Why don’t you apply yourself to denouncing those actually carrying out atrocities against their own people, like, for example, the Islamic State, and Robert Mugabe?

            1. It doesn’t matter how correct you are. I don’t care how many facts you bring up. I don’t care how well documented they are. This is a MAC NEWS SITE. I go elsewhere for my political news. Kindly fuck off.

            2. Hey, look at the headline: Siri’s inventors are building a radical new Artificial Intelligence that done anything you ask.

              Note the “anything”. Doesn’t matter how It doesn’t matter how correct I am on MAC NEWS TOPIC. Doesn’t matter how may MAC NEWS FACTS I bring up on this MAC NEWS SITE, you are going to it through your politically tinted glasses.

              I’ve told you before others usurp a thread with their political views. Mine are humanitarian, not indicative of a political party. You have problem with that, and you’ve told me. I’ve replied to you that I have no intention as you put it to kindly fuck off, unless there are some principles stated and applied at MDN.

              You are more than welcome and encouraged to approach those who run MDN and pressure them to change. You are more than encouraged not to read any of my posts.

              There is a wonderful sense of freedom of speech here. Sometimes I see threads that have nothing to do with the topic at hand or are usurped. You know it’s a drawback at times but overall it makes this community a lot more real.

              There are sites with great Mac News and sterilized forums. Perhaps you may consider those for your forum elucidation.

              At the end of the day though, others bring outside ideas here, and so I. That’s the MDN community as it is today.

      1. Ahhh dang, did I cross the line mentioning Global Peace and Harmony. I know it’s such a threat to the national security of the United Hates.

        Well they will just have to get in line like everyone else. Of course the death threats and threats like yours just keep piling up. Fortunately the “aim for Bin Laden hit Saddam” guidance system pretty ensures that you’ll be lining up somewhere, not to mention that you kind of get lost when you venture out into the free world, not to mention that the SWAT team has no international jurisdiction, not to mention that you sound like a hot aired Amurdercan who can’t deliver on their promise.

        Tell you what asshole, I’ll counter your threat. I’ll drop by tomorrow, roughly 24 hours from now and post a follow up.

        If I don’t post, well everyone will know just how effective and mighty you are.

        Otherwise everyone will know how hollow yours threats and how much of a wannabe bully you are.

        See in 24 hours chump.

        1. Thanks for alerting me to the fact this is a non-Apple related site, and how murderous we Americans are… Way to stay on topic, fella. You remind me of some guy who always had to refer to Apple as Mapple…just because he though it sounded cool and could be seen as a statement, kind of like a teen wearing some t-shirt with a lame slogan on it… It’s usually a sign of someone who wants to be seen, but doesn’t really have anything going on, thus the shirt.

          I get that you have a problem with Americans (stereotype much…??) but your crudely thought out label just makes me skip whatever point you think you’re trying to make, because I already right through it… Drop the immature BS, make a reasoned and cogent point about the topic at hand…maybe someone might actually pay attention to you for your brilliance. Until then, in the words of Steven Tyler… Dream On.

          1. You are most welcome and thank you. Usually the honor goes to “First 2014, Then 2016”, he’s posted at the topic entitled “Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer was right to ban working from home, right?” which has nothing to do with Apple, in fact Apple is not even mentioned in the article.

            I do hope you write a nice little email to the MDN management about it and give the “way to stay on topic fellas”, we wouldn’t want to think that you are being a discriminatory Amurdercan bully who can dish it out but can’t take it.

            I guess there isn’t much between your ears if I remind you of what you described. Tell you what though, I’ll drop the immature BS the day that the United Hates regrows a spine back and brings G.W. Bush to the Hague to answer crimes against humanity. Until then no mercy no quarter unless the management of MDN steps in and suffocates my freedom of speech.

            And if you think I haven’t made a reasoned and cogent point about a topic at hand, you haven’t read very many of my posts.

            Have a good day.

    2. We don’t need a machine to tell us any of those things.

      The location to invade doesn’t matter, we just pick the one that’s most convenient.

      All plutonium is good as long as it makes a pretty mushroom cloud, preferably over some brown or yellow people that talk funny.

      If we want to torture people we call the Kardashians or Justin Beiber.

      If we need to kill someone we just convince them to sell loose cigarettes and the police will kill him for us.

      If someone insults our country we don’t care because no one else matters unless they are attractive.

      Of course in the civilized world…wait that was really funny. Other than Sweden and Iceland and maybe Denmark I can’t think of where the f*ck you are referring to.

  3. It will be sooner than many think. IBM’s low-powered (5.4 billion transistors at 70 milliwatts) brain-like chip, TrueNorth, and Qualcomm’s Zeroth neuromorphic chip are nearing production. These systems will be able to visualize, recognize patterns and learn.

  4. If two of the original Siri team left Apple disgruntled, I wonder about the relationships involved…

    Scott Forstall spent 12 minutes at the 2011 keynote showing off Siri 1.0; he was clearly enthusiastic about this technology. But Tim Cook banished him after the bungled Maps rollout, using that as an excuse to further empower Forstall’s adversary Jonathan Ive.

    Once Scott was gone, maybe the Siri team were snubbed by the new management? Tim should take another look at the long-term effects of his staffing decisions, in order to avoid losing priceless resources like the Viv labs leadership.

    I’ve asked myself which was more important to me: chamfered edges or interface functionality; eye candy or an attentive, predictive personal assistant? The latter.

    I’d sacrifice Jony Ive for the promise of what these visionaries are doing with Siri. Maybe Apple could buy Viv, but I doubt the two men wouldn’t care to return to an acerbic environment. If Microsoft acquired them, destiny could take a left turn.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.