Viva Viv: Son of Siri Aims to Connect Everyone With Everything

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Engineers are developing self-learning aritificial intelligence that will not only answer virtually any question, but will also run through your to-do list and take care of all of your tasks, from the simple to the complex. Think of it as Siri—with superpowers. 

In fact, comparisons to Siri are warranted, as the co-founders at Viv Labs had a hand in developing Siri.

Now their Viv “global brain” is going brain-to-brain with Apple’s voice recognition digital assistant, as well as Google Now, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Echo, Facebook’s speech recognition technology and myriad other AI efforts, all pursuing the dream of a platform that not only meets but anticipates our needs, and truly delivers on Siri’s promise.

But the startup’s ambition doesn’t end there.[more]

Viv’s creators envision a technology that can book flights, recommend restaurants—and reserve tables—and otherwise connect all of our things in this great Internet of Things universe we all live in. Ask Viv to arrange your entire vacation and feed the fish while you’re gone, and it will happily comply. At least, that’s the vision.

“I’m extremely proud of Siri and the impact it’s had on the world, but in many ways it could have been more,” Adam Cheyer told Wired, which broke the news of the stealth startup in August. “Now I want to do something bigger than mobile, bigger than consumer, bigger than desktop or enterprise. I want to do something that could fundamentally change the way software is built.”

According to Wired, Viv’s founders say you’ll access its artificial intelligence as a utility, the way you draw on electricity. Simply by speaking, you will connect to what they are calling “a global brain,” one that’s blindingly smart and infinitely flexible but omnipresent. And that brain can help power a million different apps and devices.

Viv stands as a bold example of an integrator brand that connects countless businesses, apps, devices, and the physical items we interact with every day. At the center of this ecosystem are the consumer’s personal preferences, which Viv learns more about with every use, in real time. Eventually, Viv will know what you want before you do. 

Such a grand vision comes with significant challenges, as Business Insider notes—and not just the HAL-inspired fear that Viv will outlearn and outsmart its users.

Myriad third-party elements must all work together seamlessly within one ecosystem. Developers need to be convinced that they should work to Viv platform specs, possibly in addition to the AI platforms that Google and others are developing. 

Viv’s greatest obstacle could be convincing consumers that their return on data will be high. As people become more selective about the personal information they share, the pressure will be on brands like Viv to deliver an experience that far exceeds the perceived value of the data they give up. 

If Viv takes off, it will be in no small part because it is being designed from the ground up to ensure each user’s distinct preferences remain directly in the center of its vast ecosystem.

But whether it succeeds or not, Viv represents a dramatic step towards the future, where brands give people total control to shape their own unique experiences, according to their own tastes and needs.  

• Mark Dwyer is a Toronto-based word nerd and branding strategist for Interbrand Canada.

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