Speaking Virtual Assistants With Artificial Intelligence Are Coming

With the invention of digital personal assistants for our smart phones and personal computers that type of interaction with our robotic friends may be just around the corner.

Any child growing up in the ninety eighties will remember watching various TV shows and films that had an intrepid hero that would almost always have a faithful robot sidekick.

Whether it was the Michael Knight in Knight Rider with his super computer called Kitt built into his car, or Fisher Stevens being helped by Johnnie 5 in Short Circuit heroes of the story always had a futuristic aid that helped them win the day.

Think is hyperbole? Well think how quickly computers have changed over the last two decades or so? Even the advancement in digital personal assistants is dramatic. The digital assistants of the early Blackberry and Palm phones were surely limited in comparison to what today’s interfaces can do.

The virtual P.A.s of the Palm and Blackberry only really have the capability to consolidate basic functions such as calendars, contact lists and reminders. They could send you a voice activated reminder but that was it
today’s devices, from Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Echo are not just schedulers but intelligent two way machines that you can have an actual conversation with!

These tools help keep our home alarm systems secure, help us switch on lights or heating remotely or allow us to search the internet without the need to type away in from of an interface. And the options they will be able to
provide us are only just beginning.

Amazon’s Echo, which is a a voice-enabled wireless speaker with a build in bot called Alexa. Ask Alexa a question and its bot answers you with preprogrammed information. If you were to do a manual search you will get a far wider selection of answers. Mention a keyword in your question or statement and you will be offered products and services from the manufacturers apps and partners.

But as it is Amazon any searches that are done are through Amazon, limiting you in your search capacity and controlling your search somewhat.

Tech leaders such as Google’s Beshad Behazadia and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella are promoting technology that will ensure searches are more tailored to the consumer’s individual need than the company trying to sell them products.

They suggest that operating systems for digital assistants will soon be using Artificial Intelligence to cater to your specific requirements.

Currently If I give my personal assistant access to the locations that are important to me and my calendars, she can send reminders about when I need to leave to make it on time to my next appointment.

However, future assistants will be able to use A.I. in order to monitor traffic and figure out if I need to leave work now to pick my son up from day care because of a freeway accident.

The founders of Siri on in May introduced an AI-driven virtual assistant called Viv at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York.

Siri-co founder and Viv Labs CEO Dag Kittlaus, said to a packed audience of tech say journalists:

“The more you ask of Viv, the more it will get to know you. Siri was chapter one, and now it’s almost like a new Internet age is coming.”

Viv, unlike other personal digital assistants like Siri, Google Now, and Cortana can not only understand conversational language, it can understand different topics and commands in the same conversation and reply to you in natural, conversational language as well.

It uses the information it has built up about the users, email accounts, banks details, conversations with friends to perform far more complicated tasks than finding the address for the nearest pizzeria.

Oren Etzioni, chief executive of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Seattle, told the Washington Post, what separates Viv from the rest is that “Viv is that it aims to mimic the spontaneity and knowledge base of a human assistant.

An example of Viv’s capabilities? Eight of Viv’s engineers sat down in a room in their HQ and one of the engineers told Viv “Get me a pizza from Pizza Chicago near my office.” Then, a text from Viv appeared asking “Would you like toppings with that?”

All eight engineers started shouting their preferences of toppings and additional orders—all at the same time: “Pepperoni.” “Half cheese.” “Caesar salad” they yelled. They also started complicated the order, giving Viv more commands like adding or removing toppings and “change the medium pizza to a large” all while talking over each other.

40 minutes later, the Post reports, a Pizza Chicago driver showed up with four made-to-order pizzas. All pizzas arrived exactly as ordered and Viv accomplished all this based off of nothing but a conversation with 8 people—no apps, of googling, or phone calls.

Another huge benefit that its makers believe Viv will have over the competition is that Because Viv is not tied to any particular device, unlike almost every rival voice assistant, it could eventually be integrated into all of those devices without having to send people back to ones made by the company.