Keri Wiginton, Blue Sky
Artificial Intelligence

Samsung Acquires Viv, an AI Assistant Created by the Minds Behind Siri

This new AI assistant can write its own code.

Dom GaleonOctober 6th 2016

An assistant like no other

As far as AI assistants go, Samsung has never been close to having an efficient one of its own. Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant have been the two major players, but now Samsung is officially in the game with its acquisition of Viv, a next-generation AI assistant developed by the creators of Siri.

Founded in 2012 by Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer, and Chris Brigham to be a more extensive and powerful version of Siri, Viv is an artificially intelligent assistant system whose most interesting feature is its innate interconnected nature. Because Viv can access multiple silos of information across apps and services, it eliminates the need for multiple AI assistants, which is something Apple is only now addressing with Siri.

Viv is also capable of writing its own code to fulfill new tasks, allowing it to handle new projects on the fly. It’s a “software that builds itself” using program synthesis, a technique already used by many other verticals. “Instead of having to write every code instructed, you’re really just describing what you want it to do,” explains Kittlaus in an interview with Matthew Panzarino of TechCrunch. “The whole idea of Viv is that developers can go in and build any experience that they want.”

Ubiquity is the key

Kittlaus said the reason Viv decided to go with Samsung is the company’s already large presence in the tech space. “They ship 500 million devices a year. You asked me onstage about what our real goal is, and I said ubiquity,” he explains. How Viv will resonate with those Samsung users remains to be seen, at least until it has an actual launch, but the acquisition confirms that the tech world sees AI assistants as a space worth investing in.

People are clearly interested in the technology, too. A recent study by Creative Strategies’ Carolina Milanesi reported that only 2 percent of iPhone users have never used Siri, and 4 percent of Android users have never used OK Google. However, the majority of the study’s users reported that they use their AI assistants only “sometimes or rarely,” so they aren’t yet as ubiquitous as Kittlaus would likely hope. The key now is creating an AI assistant so helpful and user-friendly that anyone who tries it will want to keep using it. Viv could be that assistant.

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