in iOS, tech, wotd

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a tsotchke is a knicknack or a trinket. One way of looking at it would be some small item that may or may not be of significance. Steven Levy, writing for Wired, uses it as follows –

Viv was named after the Latin root meaning live. Its San Jose, California, offices are decorated with tsotchkes bearing the numbers six and five (VI and V in roman numerals).

Source: Siri’s Inventors Are Building a Radical New AI That Does Anything You Ask | Enterprise | WIRED

The story is that the people who built Siri are now working on a completely new platform called Viv. Disappointed by the post-Jobs handling of Siri (he bought it, but the executives forced these developers to cut down Siri from a strong, 45-member service to a mere 14-member weakling) and by the lack of super-intelligent ‘servant’ services, Adam Cheyer, Dag Kittlaus, and Chris Brigham decided to build something that would be bigger, better and truly intelligent.

One aspect of this ‘intelligence’ (other than the usual tropes of AI – machine learning, huge databases and vocal interfaces) is the ability to understand context and link data sources to combine results. An excellent example of this is Viv’s ability to look for tickets for airplanes on dates that a person is free. This requires access to the person’s calendar, airlines information, seating databases and the sense to ‘write code’ on it’s own to merge all this information together without the need of programmers to hard code it (welp! No programmers? What’ll happen to us?). The impressive thing is that Viv can do that Right Now.

Another impressive thing is that these folks don’t want to sell this technology to some Internet giant, as they did with Siri. They’ve decided to build it and then license it in a way to be able to add it to every Internet connected device. Their VCs are supporting them in this quest and hopefully, if they succeed, Viv will become a tsotchke in itself, indecipherable from the platforms it’s used on and an interminable part of our daily lives.