Co-Founder of Siri: Assistant launch is a “World-Changing Event” (Interview)

On Tuesday, Apple will change the way humans interact with electronic devices. All over again.

Perhaps the biggest announcement at Apple’s iPhone event on Tuesday will be Assistant, Apple’s evolution of the Siri Personal Assistant Software. Siri, you’ll remember, is the company Apple picked up for a rumored $200 million in April of last year for, in Steve Jobs’ words, its “Artificial Intelligence”, not search or speech recognition.

During Siri’s brief two months on its own, it described itself as a ‘VPA':

Virtual Personal Assistants (VPAs) represent the next generation interaction paradigm for the Internet. In today’s paradigm, we follow links on search results. With a VPA, we interact by having a conversation. We tell the assistant what we want to do, and it applies multiple services and information sources to help accomplish our task. Like a real assistant, a VPA is personal; it uses information about an individual’s preferences and interaction history to help solve specific tasks, and it gets better with experience.

Apple has long wanted to bring an Artificial Intelligence-based Personal Assistant to the masses. In the late 80’s, Apple made the Knowledge Navigator series of videos (example below) to showcase this ambition.

In the video, the professor mentions that someone wrote an article 5 years ago trashing Jill’s research (watch from 1:25 min onwards, at 1:50 min he mentions more details) – The computer says the doctor’s name and says his article in 2006 – which means the professor is in 2011. Ha! Thanks PBHK!

The world has come a long way since then, but as you’ll see on Tuesday, Apple had remarkable foresight way back in 1987.

We had the chance to speak to Siri’s co-founder and board member, Norman Winarsky…

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