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Ex-Siri team working on new AI to answer questions that Apple's Siri already answers

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
A group of former Siri engineers have begun work on a next-generation digital assistant that they say will outsmart any of the current offerings, but some of the goals they claim to be working on have already been reached by Apple's own voice-driven personal assistant.

Viv founders Adam Cheyer, Dag Kittlaus, and Chris Brigham | Photo courtesy of Wired
Viv founders Adam Cheyer, Dag Kittlaus, and Chris Brigham | Photo courtesy of Wired


The crew's latest project, called "Viv," was unveiled on Tuesday in a new profile from Wired. Viv is variously referred to throughout the piece as a "radical new AI" and "potentially very big," with company cofounder Adam Cheyer going so far as to say that his goal is to "fundamentally change the way software is built."

Cheyer, along with partners Doug Kittlaus and Chris Brigham, boast the pedigree to back up their assertions. The three are credited for the invention of Siri as we know it today, following its separation from research firm SRI International, who developed its language processing capabilities for the Department of Defense's research arm.

They sold Siri to Apple in 2010, and eventually left the Cupertino giant one-by-one after Siri's debut in the iPhone 4S. After getting back together two years ago, they brought in a number of artificial intelligence experts -- including researcher Mark Gabel from the University of Texas at Dallas and IBM's David Gondek, who worked on Big Blue's Watson.

Despite the lofty goals, what Viv actually seems to be is a kind of "Siri expansion pack." Where Siri represented a revolutionary step in natural language processing, Viv appears at first blush to be more evolutionary.
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Rather than conceptually redefining artificial intelligence, as is suggested, Viv instead logically blends together an enormous number of backend services -- one example has the system mingle ingredient lists with wine pairing databases, point-of-interest data, retail catalogs and routing information to tell the user where he can pick up a cheap bottle of wine that goes well with lasagna on the way to his brother's house.

Such a feat is impressive, to be sure. Former Google Now product chief Vishal Sharma was said to be "blown away" by the pasta-centric demonstration, saying that he didn't "know any system in the world that could answer a question like that."

Another example, given by Kittlaus, leaves a slightly different impression.

"Google Now has a huge knowledge graph--you can ask questions like 'Where was Abraham Lincoln born?' And it can name the city," Kittlaus said. "You can also say, 'What is the population?' of a city and it'll bring up a chart and answer. But you cannot say, 'What is the population of the city where Abraham Lincoln was born?'"

Google Now may not be able to answer that question, but Apple's Siri already can. Thanks to integration with Wolfram Research's Wolfram Alpha computational knowledge engine, Siri promptly informs users that the population of Lincoln's hometown of Hodgenville, Kentucky was approximately 3,232 people as of 2012.

Apple is also moving rapidly to enhance Siri. Since its introduction, the digital assistant has added deeper integration with iPhone and iPad hardware, and will gain real-time voice recognition and song identification functionality in the forthcoming iOS 8.

Even Viv's backers are cautious of its future prospects. "Many things can go wrong, but I would like to see something like this exist," Sharma added.

"Viv is potentially very big, but it's all still potential," said Siri funder Gary Morgenthaler, before adding that he has "very high confidence" that the Viv team can pull it off. "I only have doubt as to when and how."
post #2 of 27

You forgot the last part of the sentence   " ........already answers, badly ! "  Siri is still a Work in Progress.  Google has this voice recognition angle nailed at the moment, I'm afraid.  Siri is a distant second.

post #3 of 27

I don't see what the problem with Siri is. Over 90% of the time she gets exactly what I mean the first time. Already I am able to respond to messages, respond to emails, lookup locations of interest, and find out my sport scores with extremely accurate results. Yes, sometimes my results end up wrong (sometimes humorously wrong to boot), but that is the exception, not the norm that many people are claiming.

 

At first, she was near worthless. But the more I have used Siri, the more accurate she becomes.

 

That said, she still can grow by leaps and bounds. Especially with the recent IBM deal. It would be very exciting if they could combine the current voice recognition (and improvements on it) of Siri, and combine that with the cognitive database of Watson. That would be very exciting!

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-- Mike Eggleston
-- Mac Fanatic since 1984.
-- Proud Member of PETA: People Eating Tasty Animals
-- Wii #: 8913 3004 4519 2027

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post #4 of 27
Not when they are compared side by side. Siri always comes out on top over all.
post #5 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Banyan Bruce View Post
 

You forgot the last part of the sentence   " ........already answers, badly ! "  Siri is still a Work in Progress.  Google has this voice recognition angle nailed at the moment, I'm afraid.  Siri is a distant second.


And how can you back up that statement, Banyan?  You work for google, and are paid by them to talk like this.

post #6 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Eggleston View Post
 

I don't see what the problem with Siri is. Over 90% of the time she gets exactly what I mean the first time. Already I am able to respond to messages, respond to emails, lookup locations of interest, and find out my sport scores with extremely accurate results. Yes, sometimes my results end up wrong (sometimes humorously wrong to boot), but that is the exception, not the norm that many people are claiming.

 

At first, she was near worthless. But the more I have used Siri, the more accurate she becomes.

 

That said, she still can grow by leaps and bounds. Especially with the recent IBM deal. It would be very exciting if they could combine the current voice recognition (and improvements on it) of Siri, and combine that with the cognitive database of Watson. That would be very exciting!

One problem is how Siri handles that (very appoximate) 10%. Siri seems to stubborly stick with its first (incorrect) answer no matter how you rephrase the question.

post #7 of 27
Originally Posted by RonMG View Post
You work for google, and are paid by them to talk like this.


Any evidence of that? Such things can be seen by the mods on the back end.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #8 of 27
I believe voice recognition should have first been developed as an interface for iPhone and iPad -- so that it could be used to execute commands by voice that now require the use of fingers. A voice interface would also be a valuable feature in the tiny-screen iWatch. Only after that was accomplished should Apple have tried to integrate artificial intelligence into the system.

I care a little, but it is of secondary importance whether I need to ask two simple questions (Where was Lincoln born? What is the population of that city?) or one complex one. What I don't like is expecting to be understood (due to Siri's "intelligence"), but then having to ask the question again and again. We cannot say (with a straight face) that Siri "just works."
post #9 of 27
But does it sound like Scarlett Johansson?

Siri works great for me. I've played with the iOS 8 beta, it keeps getting better and better.
post #10 of 27

.

post #11 of 27

These are all things that Wolfram Alpha answers, really. Hopefully Apple's got a good agreement with them because without Wolfram Alpha, Siri would only be able to do web searches. MAYBE they're working something out with IBM and Watson. (Dreaming here.)

post #12 of 27

Really?! Voice recognition is useless in heavily populated and noisy environments. Imagine every person that you see on their phone now dictating every command or text or e-mail etc. Ridiculous.

post #13 of 27

Tried it with iOS8, and it doesn't answer the question about Lincoln.

So Siri doesn't seem to improve. And I would be surprised if it did, because no real semantic interpretation is done, its hit and miss so to speak.

(Another point is that Siri doesn't work without the internet and thats unacceptable if you look at the super computer performance of the 64bit A7.)

post #14 of 27

This is an interesting piece of information 

 

Quote:
The three are credited for the invention of Siri as we know it today, following its separation from research firm SRI International, who developed its language processing capabilities for the Department of Defense's research arm

 

Since Siri came out of research which was funded by the US Government, it mean that the US Government is also a owner of the Siri Technologies. I wonder if those 3 remember to list the US government on any patents they have for the technology, in order to accept US government funds they had to agree to list the government on any patents which come from the research.


Edited by Maestro64 - 8/12/14 at 3:47pm
post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
 

This is an interesting piece of information 

 

 

Since Siri cam out of research which was funded by the US Government, it mean that the US Government is also a owner of the Siri Technologies.

 

Citation needed.

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GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #16 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
 

This is an interesting piece of information 

 

 

Since Siri cam out of research which was funded by the US Government, it mean that the US Government is also a owner of the Siri Technologies. I wonder if those 3 remember to list the US government on any patents they have for the technology, in order to accept US government funds they had to agree to list the government on any patents which come of the research.

Well as the saying goes, its all what you negotiated. In general from the instructions I have received- you are correct that the govt can use this tech as it pleases... for govt purposes. In general, the SRI guys can also use as they please for commercial purposes. More and more companies play hardball with the govt to ensure that is true, else what's the point. The down side is the govt may give to a competitor for a govt contract.

Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster by your side, kid.
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Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster by your side, kid.
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post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post
 

 

Citation needed.

Would like to cite it for you, but it is one of the take way I have from a class I took on Technology and Public Policy. The person who taught the business class work for NIST, and he said it is not unusual for patent holders who are funded by government to not list the US government on the patents. This came up during a discussion about bio-tech companies who usually are the worst offenders. Part of the reason the Fed fund so much medical research is for the fact they want the ability to take those patents and use they as they see fit especially during times of a medical issue like an out break of a diseases. Since the government is co-owner of most medical discoveries they can exercise their rights to give the patents to anyone to product to make sure it does not cost too much and ensure supply.

 

I did find this which talks about it, but I am not sure it is the law

 

http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/s310.html 

 

I do know the the mere acceptance of government money forfeits your 100% ownership and you can not negotiate this away.  

 

I also happen to work for a start up company who got its initial working capital from a government funded project and all the patents were co-owned and we had to be careful going forward to make sure we separated our work so that no future patents were not tied back to the government since they continue to fund some work. Also some one pointed out above the government could turn those patents over to your competitor so they were not single sourced on your technology.

post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post
 

 

Citation needed.

okay it was not too hard to find, you could have done it yourself

 

http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/matters/matters-9004.html

post #19 of 27
Apple bought Siri and the team left one by one to team up again and create a competitor... These guys are smart jerks. Apple should negotiate 5 year contracts with these companies. I think it's best to keep the founders around at least 3-5 years.
Would be interesting if Apple buys viv or whatever it's called.

Side thought: I've been thinking, can Apple buy IBM? Legally/financially/theoretically etc?Watson integration on Apple products and IBM integration for personal business and interprise would kick a**.
post #20 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 


Any evidence of that? Such things can be seen by the mods on the back end.

 

What from the IP address? I'm not suggesting this guy 'does' work for Google, but if he did, I think they are smart enough to not use a Google IP!

post #21 of 27
Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post
What from the IP address? I'm not suggesting this guy 'does' work for Google, but if he did, I think they are smart enough to not use a Google IP!


You’d be surprised. Adobe employees signed up to support Flash in ’08 when Apple’s big to-do about getting rid of it first happened.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by cali View Post

Apple bought Siri and the team left one by one to team up again and create a competitor... These guys are smart jerks. Apple should negotiate 5 year contracts with these companies. I think it's best to keep the founders around at least 3-5 years.
Would be interesting if Apple buys viv or whatever it's called.

Side thought: I've been thinking, can Apple buy IBM? Legally/financially/theoretically etc?Watson integration on Apple products and IBM integration for personal business and interprise would kick a**.

Most likely Apple has some sort of non compete with them when the company was bought. As part of the buy out if they choose to leave the company they would not be allowed to make a competing product for some period of time. This is maybe why they are just now making the public aware they are at work again.

 

They also have an issue of making sure they do not infringe on the IP that Apple now owns. They should know how to get around it but this is the reason you do not see many founders of a company who get bought out going out and doing it all over again. They have a hard time getting around their own patents especially if their patent lawyers were good and make it broad enough to allow them to sue anyone who attempts to make a competing product.

post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
I do know the the mere acceptance of government money forfeits your 100% ownership and you can not negotiate this away.  

It is negotiated in the contract before any money changes hands or work begins (using that money).

Also, not all work (necessarily) on a project is done using government money.

Some of the work may be done with the company's own money and not charged to a contract.

 

Look up the Bayh–Dole Act.

and this -> http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/35/part-II/chapter-18

post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by knowitall View Post

Tried it with iOS8, and it doesn't answer the question about Lincoln.
So Siri doesn't seem to improve. And I would be surprised if it did, because no real semantic interpretation is done, its hit and miss so to speak.
(Another point is that Siri doesn't work without the internet and thats unacceptable if you look at the super computer performance of the 64bit A7.)

Sorry, but that is an absolutely moronic comment about Siri needing an internet connection. So my iPhone or iPad is supposed to store all the database in the world to answer any question I throw at her? Get real.
post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

Most likely Apple has some sort of non compete with them when the company was bought. As part of the buy out if they choose to leave the company they would not be allowed to make a competing product for some period of time. This is maybe why they are just now making the public aware they are at work again.

They also have an issue of making sure they do not infringe on the IP that Apple now owns. They should know how to get around it but this is the reason you do not see many founders of a company who get bought out going out and doing it all over again. They have a hard time getting around their own patents especially if their patent lawyers were good and make it broad enough to allow them to sue anyone who attempts to make a competing product.

thanks.

I still think there should have been like a 5 year contract for them to work at Apple. I think it's important to keep the founders to
continue pushing their vision forward and guide the new company until the training wheels fall off.
a good analogy would be a company firing the architect early on and having the construction workers figure out how to materialize the rest of the project.

Interesting that they would reunite to develop
another voice recognition service and you mention founders hardly ever doing that.
post #26 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by cali View Post


thanks.

I still think there should have been like a 5 year contract for them to work at Apple. I think it's important to keep the founders to
continue pushing their vision forward and guide the new company until the training wheels fall off.
a good analogy would be a company firing the architect early on and having the construction workers figure out how to materialize the rest of the project.

Interesting that they would reunite to develop
another voice recognition service and you mention founders hardly ever doing that.

It has been my experience that reverse engineering software is far easier then do the same thing with hardware.  Any good software engineer can look at someone code and figure out what they are doing and why they did what they did. It is very easy to change and see the cause and effects. So these guys leaving Apple was not a big hit to developing the product further which is evident by Apple's continual improvement of the product. You never put expensive golden handcuff on a founder of a company unless you 100% sure you need them in the future.

 

Hardware is a little different, I have seen where engineers put things into their design either on purpose of by accident or discovery which make the design work. Many time it is not documented and if you do not do exactly what they did then it may not work and it may not be evident why what they did made it work. I can not think of any right now but there are example in history of designs which work and it took modern day scientists and engineers years to figure why it happen to work.

 

Do you want to buy a hardware company and let the founder walk only to find out no one around him has any idea why his design work the way they do.


Edited by Maestro64 - 8/14/14 at 6:26am
post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeRange View Post

Sorry, but that is an absolutely moronic comment about Siri needing an internet connection. So my iPhone or iPad is supposed to store all the database in the world to answer any question I throw at her? Get real.

Your own comment seems a bit moronic.
Your iPhone and iPad is a huge database and has a lot capabilities all at Siri's command if she could understand you (that is without an internet).
It might also be the case that you need Siri the most when your offline...
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