From our CEO, Joshua Montgomery:
In November Albert Wenger at Union Square Ventures wrote a short piece titled “Voice Interfaces: Open Alternative is an Opportunity” In it he highlights his belief that existing platforms like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa are a trap for developers. He also lays out an opportunity for some enterprising startup to build an open alternative and seed it by developing a reference device and taking it to Kickstarter.
At the time Albert didn’t know about Mycroft (we’ve since connected), but he sure hit the nail on the head. Here at Mycroft we are working to take that opportunity to create a community dedicated to building an open technology. We are also working to build a business to back that community so that we have the computing resources, infrastructure and full time staff necessary to provide a world class user experience. As Larry Page said in Fortune a few years back, “If you invent something, that doesn’t necessarily help anybody. You’ve got to actually get it into the world; you’ve got to produce, make money doing it so you can fund it.”
That is why Mycroft is important. We are on the path to providing the open source community with a sustainable model for deploying virtual assistants. That means everyone will soon have access to the same voice technologies that power Siri, Alexa, Cortana, M and Assistant. Developers around the world will have the ability to use Mycroft’s technology to build custom experiences that have unique capabilities. They will be able to create custom voices, custom interactions and develop unique skills. Whether they are working on a magic mirror project for a child’s bedroom or a in-vehicle AI — developers will have full access to the tools they need.
This is important because the way we interact with technology is about to change drastically. Future computer systems will understand human language. We will no longer be confined to pointing and grunting at a tiny screen. We’ll be able to converse with our technology naturally in the same way we converse with a co-worker or a friend.
That is why big companies in Silicon Valley are making such huge investments in machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies. They see this future fast approaching and want to harness the technology to feed their growth.
Here at Mycroft we want to see these companies succeed. Better speech-to-text, intent parsing, natural language understanding and speech synthesis technologies will benefit everyone. Our goal is not to compete with the giants of Silicon Valley, but collaborate and cooperate to make these technologies available to everyone.
We also want to give users control over their data. Modern search, retail and social platforms already give companies profound insight into users. Imagine how much more companies will know when they can listen to and transcribe everything you say and watch everything you do. Some users will be happy to pay for their technology with their privacy, but others will want to choose what happens to their data and control their user experience. They will want Mycroft.
Finally Mycroft is important because we’ve embraced the concept of user agency. We believe that users will want their assistants to act in their best interests. Today’s technology acts in the best interests of the companies that control it. Once again this is fine for some users, but we believe that users should be able to deploy assistants that are their agents and no one else’s.
That is why Mycroft is important, why being open is important and why we are working so hard here to build an AI for everyone.
Kris is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Mycroft. She helped develop and executed on the social media strategy for the Kickstarter and continues managing social media in her role as Social Media Manager at Mycroft today.