The buzz this week from Silicon Valley is Siri Assistant (iTunes – not yet findable on my iPhone via AppStore*). Slogan: You Ask. Siri Does.
Need a table for 2 at your favorite restaurant next Thursday?Just ask Siri.Need a taxi right now?Just ask Siri and with a single request the cab’s on its way.Type or speak… it’s up to you. Siri acts on your behalf utilizing the best services on the web. Simply put: it’s the new way to get things done.
The interface is voice or keyboard. The brains, an algorithm that came out of DARPA ($150 million investment over five years into Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes). From Siri:
The OS of Virtual Assistants will be the internet itself. (as Kevin Kelly postulated years ago) The brains will be AI’s that are developed by software companies for both general purpose and targeted domains. The arms and legs will be web services API’s (many of your favorite brands and services) and the connective tissue will be authentication protocols like oAuth and Open Social and trust circles like that of Facebook. The rapid maturation of technologies that enable free form interaction such as Natural Language Processing and speech recognition have vastly improved to the point of gaining real adoption in many applications today. (eg Google Speech, Nuance Dragon Dictation, Synch for cars…etc) Virtual Assistants will leverage these inputs and begin to synchronize and orchestrate these existing enablers into a simple conversation and a simpler, more natural way to get things done. As the late pioneer from MIT Michael Dertouzos called it “human-centric computing.”
This is the next step in web advertising granularity (CPA: cost per acquisition or cost per action), according to Dag Kittlaus in an interview with Robert Scoble. But the results are not “sponsored” or privileged based on Siri’s advertising contracts. You can privilege Yelp reviews, for example, or your favorite airline. You can (well, will be able to) tell Siri to talk to Foursquare or Twitter – all it needs is an API.
Lots of buzz:
- Google Maps
- Open Table
- Rotten Tomatoes
- Taxi Magic
- Yahoo! Local
* No-show in AppStore at 11.30 pm Thursday but available via web link to iTunes: