When Her came out last year, the first thing people noticed, after Joaquin Phoenix’s pants, was how plausible the film’s depiction of the future was. In his film, director Spike Jonze envisions an LA populated not by flying cars and robots, but people wearing earpieces hooked to hyper-intelligent smartphones. The smartphones of the future can converse, read email, and book appointments. Kinda like Siri, but better. In fact, almost as if Siri were a real woman living in code.
Her was called a science fiction movie. But what it might actually be is a viable premonition.
An ultra-secret start-up called Viv Labs is working on the future of artificial intelligence. The founders, the same guys who developed Siri, are responding to common criticisms behind Apple’s first artificial assistant. For example, Siri can give you a list of the hottest restaurants downtown, but she can’t make a reservation for next Thursday night. She can also tell you the latest deals on Amazon, but she can’t place an order for a pair of headphones. Although Siri can recognize 2 and 2, she can’t put them together.
On the other hand, not only will Viv recognize disparate requests, she will also be able to put them together. Basically, Viv is Siri with the ability to learn.
The smartest guys in tech are working around the clock to make a personal assistant who can plan your calendar, send emails, and buy goods and services – everything, in short, that Samantha, the AI in Her, could do. Viv can also establish connections between commands, the very ability that Siri lacks, and perform tasks outside her programming, which currently Siri can’t. This suggests that future iPhones may be equipped with functional artificial intelligence. Machines that know our lives better than we do.
The project is being kept heavily under wraps, but the guys at Viv have hinted that they’re working towards creating a “global brain,” a shared source of artificial intelligence that’s as readily accessible as heat or electricity. It’s unclear how soon a breakthrough of this magnitude can happen. But if this team made Siri, you can bet their next project is going to blow the tech world to pieces.
The future just got a whole lot closer.