Viv, the digital personal assistant from the creators of Siri, debuted today at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference. It’s slated to be the next level of A.I. that will “enable everyone to talk to everything.” If today’s public demo is any sign, it will be all that and more.
“We’ve got a new technology that we’ve been working on patenting, and it’s a computer science breakthrough called Dynamic Program Generation,” Dag Kittlaus, co-founder and CEO of Viv, said at the conference. It’s a program that can literally write itself in real time, and it’s going to create a marketplace based around “conversational commerce” — which can be viewed either as an simple and convenient time-saver or the end of the world as we know it (in a good way, we hope).
In the demonstration, Kittlaus showed how Viv can dissect and interpret a query input someone says to the software and then program itself to respond appropriately. He asked Viv: “Will it be warmer than 70 degrees near the Golden Gate Bridge after 5 p.m. the day after tomorrow?”
It’s the type of complex question that would send Siri into a downward spiral of confusion. Viv had no problem taking the query apart and finding the answer by creating a unique 44-step program.
“This is a dynamic program that in 10 milliseconds writes itself, creates an execution program that ties the services that you need, generates the dialogue, generates the layouts, does everything that happens after the intent,” Kittlaus said.
Kittlaus wrote that “Siri Is Only The Beginning” in 2012 when he left Apple. Today, along with Viv co-founders Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham, Kittlaus showed, in real context, just how far beyond the iPhone voice assistant the team has gone.
Kittlaus laid out four key items of how Viv is going to change people’s lives when it is released sometime near the end of 2016.
First, Viv is one assistant. You don’t want to have to look and think about which service providers you have to be using and then remember all the different commands. “If you think app overload is a big deal today, wait until you’re looking at a hands-free device that has 800 bots and trying to ask this thing something,” Kittlaus said. “That doesn’t scale.”
Viv will also be personalized for your preferences, available on any device, and powered on every service. Viv aims to be the perfect “third-party ecosystem” that isn’t tied to any one server.
While knowing the weather on obscure days and times can be useful, the initial Viv development is focused on “conversational commerce.” Read: It’s about to get a whole lot easier to buy things.
Kittlaus sent Cheyer some money on Venmo for “drinks last night,” sent flowers to his mom from Pro Flowers, booked a room in Palm Springs from hotels.com, and ordered (then canceled) a ride from Uber.
“We just did four transactions in about two minutes by talking,” Kittlaus said, and this is “just the beginning of conversational commerce.”
There was a delayed pause from the audience after Kittlaus asked if it was exciting to see a hotel booking as simple as one brokered through Viv. Possibly because this type of hyper-aware, code-writing A.I. is what Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and others have been trying to warn us about since last July.
But A.I. is doubtlessly going to be the technology that drives the future. Whether it’s in a smartphone, an autonomous car, or a smart home, people will have to get used to software becoming increasingly able bodied. For consumers, Kittlaus says, Viv is the next “intelligent interface for everything.” For developers, it’s the “next great marketplace.”
“In the next five years or so, there’s going to be a new icon that is going to be very recognizable, and that’s going to be this one,” Kittlaus said onstage in front of a projected Viv backdrop. “Because when you see this … that means you can talk to that thing, and that is going to be the end result and the power of Viv over time.”