AI, or artificial intelligence, seems to be the catchword in today’s world of technology. Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google and several other companies have their own versions of virtual assistants that use artificial intelligence technologies such as machine learning and natural language processing to interact with their human users. Now, Samsung is also in the fray after agreeing to acquire the creators of Apple’s Siri, Viv Labs.
Viv Labs chief executive Dag Kittlaus was behind the creation of Siri, which Apple bought in 2010. Kittlaus worked with Apple for two years after that, eventually moving on to create Viv, another virtual assistant. This is what Samsung is now interested in, and the South Korean electronics giant has said that it wants Viv to power its televisions, smartphones and a range of other appliances and devices.
Kittlaus commented: “We see a future that is decidedly beyond apps, where you can get what you need quickly and easily no matter where you are, or what device you are near.”
Samsung is jumping on a fast-moving bandwagon that saw Google jump in with both feet just two days ago with Google Assistant, which will power their Google Home smart speakers as well as the Google Pixel family of smartphones made by Google (#madebygoogle). The key difference between Google Assistant and all other AI-driven virtual assistants such as Siri is that it can actually hold a conversation with the user by building on previous questions rather than treating each question in isolation.
For Samsung, the Viv acquisition will hopefully help them break the bad karma that came with the massive worldwide Note 7 recall last month right around the time the iPhone 7 was launched, putting them at a huge disadvantage.
Going by the fact that Viv was created by the minds behind Siri, it will likely have advanced AI functionality that goes beyond Siri.
Speaking of advancement in this area, Amazon recently offered a $2.5 million project to universities in the United States that could create an artificial-intelligence-driven program that can converse with a human and hold up its end of the conversation for at least 20 minutes at a stretch. The money consists of 10 stipend amounts of $100,000 each to 10 universities, and the team that makes the best “socialbot” will receive $500,000 in prize money. An additional $1 million will be given to the university team that can actually win the 20-minute competition.
The race for AI supremacy is on, if only at the level of building the most articulate virtual assistant on the planet. With Samsung and Google now in the middle of this intense battle, we should see some very interesting developments in this space.
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