Most of us have had an encounter or possibly even a heated debate with Siri, the intelligent assistant that allows iPhone users to operate their device through voice commands.
Siri is an intelligent agent, designed to offer you a seamless means of interacting with your Apple device. She has access to all of your apps, and will answer any questions you throw at her. (She can also be hilarious.)
With advances in technology, however, Siri will soon be made obsolete as even smarter, autonomous agents come into play.
What is an autonomous agent?
An autonomous agent is one that makes its own choices about how to act in its environment without any influence from a leader or global plan.
It sounds like the stuff of science fiction novels, but it’s really the result of complex algorithms that allow the agent to process information from its environment and calculate an action.
In short – it works toward specific goals without being told directly to do so. (Only slightly creepy.)
For a long time, developers had to program in rules as the foundation for every machine decision, but with the massive increase in data available, the machines are getting smarter.
Today’s developers work with ‘self-learning systems’ that automatically readjust and improve with every single experience. One example is Google’s driverless car, which has leveraged learnings from driving in controlled environments for years.
Intelligence becomes a utility: Meet Viv
The makers of Siri have recently revealed their newest creation, Viv, and she is pretty remarkable.
Viv can connect to a multitude of different services directly, instead of just redirecting requests to a Google search. She can follow through with voice commands such as ‘send my mum a dozen roses’ by combining info from the user’s contacts with the services of an online florist.
She connects numerous third parties so that all the services are seamless. But how does she do it?
“Viv’s biggest secret is the technology to bring the different services together on the fly to respond to requests for which it hasn’t been specifically programmed. “It is a program that writes its own program, which is the only way you can scale thousands of services working together that know nothing about one another,” says Kittlaus (Viv’s creator).
So, while Siri has her responses programmed by a developer, Viv will essentially be able to learn and adapt as she comes to know your preferences. And she’ll make it all happen just by listening to you speak.
Within the next few decades, these intelligent agents will likely be able to do nearly everything for us, without us even having to think about it.
The potential for these clever robots to become autonomous – to undertake human tasks without direction – will keep growing rapidly as access to data and the Internet of Things continues to increase.
Viv is only just the beginning…
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