Artificial intelligence that programs itself to change the conversation

Siri CEO Dag Kittlaus demonstrated Viv, which is an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that enables developers to distribute their products through an intelligent, conversational interface.


Siri CEO Dag Kittlaus demonstrated Viv, which is an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that enables developers to distribute their products through an intelligent, conversational interface. Courtesy: The Robot ReportArtificial intelligence (AI) that programs itself was demonstrated at the TechCrunch Disrupt event in New York City May 9-11. Siri CEO Dag Kittlaus demonstrated Viv, a single-source cross-platform voice assistant designed to enable developers to distribute their products through an intelligent, conversational interface. The AI program performed complex spoken tasks live and onstage. Kittlaus expects to offer Viv software development kits (SDKs) to developers in the fall and hopes to launch by the end of 2016.

Viv provides a paradigm shift in how users are affected by daily tasks—the very shift that others are attempting to provide in the form of personal assistants. It provides a single conversational user interface (UI) to recognize words, determine intent, and then write code to affect that intent in a quick and efficient manner. 

Jibo, Pepper, Alexa, Duer, Cortana, Google, Watson, and many others (startups are popping up every few days) are all in various stages of presenting and bringing to market their versions of personal assistants—some physical, others virtual.

Viv has a dynamic program generator that writes solution-based code from the intent of the user. The AI parses through the words that are said to determine intent and then writes only the software that meets the specific task requested. It breaks down the conversation into goals and values within thereby instructing the dynamic program generator which apps are required and what the parameters are for those apps.

Is Viv going to eliminate Google as the middleman? Kittlaus said that search engines such as Google aren't going anywhere. However, as Viv and other new AI assistants become more capable and become the primary resource for users, people really won't want to go back to the old way.

Siri, co-founded by SRI's Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer, and Tom Gruber, was spun-out from the SRI International Artificial Intelligence Center and acquired by Apple for $200 million in 2010. Kittlaus left Apple in 2011; Cheyer left in 2012.

Bottom line

Personal assistants are all about simplifying the process of performing daily tasks. They are attempting to be what one would expect of a knowledgeable executive assistant working alongside you to maximize productivity and minimize your involvement, a person who really knows you, and doesn't need you to explain things over and over. 

The holdup has been the software, the need for extensive coding, and the ability to identify "intent" from sounds recognized as words. The breakthrough technology that Viv is offering is an avenue to change the way programmers work with computers and how developers offer their products. Programmers will no longer have to instruct step-by-step procedures in rigid code, but instead they'll just have to describe the process and intent and the AI will develop the code—it will write the programs needed on the fly. And developers will just need to add Viv as their conversational UI.

Frank Tobe is the owner and publisher of The Robot Report. After selling his business and retiring from 25-plus years in computer direct marketing and materials, consulting to the Democratic National Committee, as well as major presidential, senatorial, congressional, mayoral campaigns and initiatives all across the U.S., Canada and internationally, he has energetically pursued a new career in researching and investing in robotics. This article originally appeared on The Robot Report. The Robot Report is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media,

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