By now most people are familiar with virtual personal assistants such as Siri, Cortana, or Google Now. Those small charmingly voiced AIs who we ask for the latest weather reports, cheapest movie theatre tickets, or inane trivia questions such as “What is the capital of Kyrgyzstan?” However while certainly innovative and entertaining – who doesn’t like a snarky comment from Siri when a particularly idiotic question is asked? – there’s also no shortage of hiccups in using the programmes that can hinder seamless use of the technology. For all their intelligence, Siri and Cortana still can’t quite handle all the tasks you’d like them to, and often require much handholding.
It’s this that the develops at Viv Labs are hoping to address with their new product, Viv.
The ambition behind Viv is an AI programme that requires no user manual to use, and can handle numerous complex tasks with just a single spoken command. Both of these are far beyond the capabilities of its competitors, but at a demonstration at Disrupt NY 2016, Viv Labs CEO Dag Kittlaus proved that Viv can do just that.
One of the first examples he used seemed fairly innocuous, to pay one of his friends $20 for drinks the night before. Specifically, the command was “Send Adam $20 for the drinks last night”.
Ordinarily that would be beyond most programmes. Who is Adam? Where does the money come from? What drinks? How is the money to be sent? This is before we get beyond the usual difficulties of vocal command input. However, Viv was able to receive and correctly interpret the command, bring up Dag’s friends list to find the said Adam, and then brought up a confirmation screen to ensure the command was received correctly. It took one spoken command, about three seconds for the money to be sent, and one confirmatory click.
Other examples included buying flowers for his mother, and booking a hotel room at Palm Springs for Labor Day. In all cases Viv had shown that it had learnt Dag’s preferences, past buying behaviour and activities, and was able to use this data for context behind Dag’s commands.
Frankly we’re impressed and amazed by the technology behind Viv. An AI that can learn and perform tasks this well really just needs a purchasable personality to be any further improved, and we’re eager to see where this may lead in future models. With the ability to learn information and apply it on the fly, it’s not impossible that programmes like Viv may start doing many of our jobs for us. While true hard AIs as our PAs may still be within the realms of science fiction right now, products like Viv are definitely the next best thing.