Dag Kittlaus is the Chicago-area visionary who helped give the world Siri. He is now CEO and co-founder of Viv, an artificial intelligence system that seeks not only to fulfill needs and solve problems, but anticipate them all in a way that’s consistent with users’ spoken and unspoken preferences.
Samsung announced in October 2016 that it would acquire Viv.
“Chicago, by its nature, tends to focus on what Chicago knows,” he told Blue Sky. “I want to give people a kick in the pants to think about big technology.”
Kittlaus, who splits his time between the Chicago suburbs and the Denver area, took medical leave of almost two months in fall 2016 for surgery related to neuroendocrine cancer of the pancreas. It is, he noted, the same cancer that took the life of Steve Jobs. “I worked right alongside him up until the time he died, and I watched him deteriorate,” Kittlaus said in January 2017. “That was scary to think about.”
He grew up in suburban Hinsdale and Michigan City, Ind., as well as in his mother’s native Norway, and co-founded Siri in 2007. The software, which Apple purchased in 2007 for use on iOS devices, allows users to speak questions and commands into their smartphones and get voice responses and information.
Kittlaus’ education was focused in economics, and he earned degrees at Indiana University and the BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo. He rose through Norway’s Telenor before coming back to the States and Motorola, where he was described in a 2005 Sun-Times column as “a blond, baby-faced Nordic Brad Pitt” overseeing “arguably the world’s most fertile communications idea-factory.”
He sits on the board of directors for Tutoring Chicago.