Siri is an intelligent assistant that came with iPhone 4s in 2011. It was a new feature that even overshadowed the iPhone’s improved camera and even its A5 chip.
Siri was a manifestation of artificial intelligence. She was endowed with a female voice and was brilliant.
She could set your alarm, call a number on your phone, and perform other tasks that left many in awe.
But as time went by, users began to notice some of its limitations. For example siri could not book a plane trip, purchase books from online stores, book a table in a restaurant, and even perform many other similar tasks.
These limitations have been noticed by a small team of engineers at Viv Labs who now say they are on the verge of realizing an advanced form of siri that will not be confined to only what Apple engineers implement but will be able to teach itself giving it limitless capabilities.
The engineers say siri will be able to use your personal preferences and web connections to perform almost any function and to answer almost any query.
The team has been working on this project for the last two years but their work has been draped in secrecy. Those who have had the opportunity to know about it like Oren Etzioni, an AI expert and head of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence says the vision of this project is significant.
“If this team is successful, we are looking at the future of intelligent agents and a multibillion-dollar industry,” said Oren Etzioni.
Viv Labs wants to be the first to produce a user-friendly assistant that is not only blindly smart and omnipresent but also infinitely flexible.
The developers hope that in the near future siri will be embedded in a plethora of internet-connected devices.
They hope that people will be able to access artificial intelligence as a utility just the same way they draw electricity and water.
“I’m extremely proud of Siri and the impact it’s had on the world, but in many ways it could have been more; now I want to do something bigger than mobile, bigger than consumer, bigger than desktop or enterprise. I want to do something that could fundamentally change the way software is built,” Cheyer says.
Cheyer acknowledges that many AI systems already exist. For example, there is the Google Now that can anticipate some of your needs and alert you if may be you are getting late or something.
Another one is the Cortana by Microsoft that has been pursuing machine-learning techniques for decades.
But Cheyer says these are limited in their functions and that there are certain questions they can not address effectively and also can not do anything the coders have not programmed it to do.
Viv will break through these constrains by generating its own code without the assistance of any programmers. It is an open system that will let innumerable applications and businesses to become part of its ‘brain’. It has minimal technical barriers and may require only brief ‘training’ in some areas.