Siri Founder on the Future of Chicago Tech, Humanity

With Groupon in SEC purgatory, it may come time sooner rather than later to anoint a new poster child for Chicago’s growing but still somewhat fledgling tech community.

Who’s the best candidate? You might find the answer by speaking into your iPhone.

Dag Kittlaus, who founded Siri Inc. in 2007 and three years later sold the company to Apple for a reported $200 million, plans to start his next company in Chicago. Kittlaus, who grew up largely in the western suburbs and worked at Motorola before starting Siri, on March 27 shared his thoughts about the future of Chicago tech (and humanity at large) during a keynote address at the March Technori Pitch.

“I’m here for good,” he told a crowd of technology entrepreneurs and startup pros. “(When I left for Silicon Valley) in 2007, the energy didn’t exist. We now have some of the most world-class institutions for tech. I’m glad to be back, and to be a part of it.”

Kittlaus added that we “need a quantum entanglement between Champaign and Chicago” established, describing the computer science presence at the University of Illinois to be “world class.”

He should know firsthand. Siri, the voice assistant that serves as the key new feature of the iPhone 4S released last fall, is informed in-part by search technology developed by Champaign-based Wolfram Research Company. Wolfram also operates a public search engine found at as well as standalone iPhone apps and Android apps.

Artificial Intelligence and the future of humanity

Beyond talking about his love for Chicago and his experiences working directly with Steve Jobs, Kittlaus opined on how technological innovation and the law of accelerated returns will make advancements over the next generation that will make the previous 25 years seem prehistoric.

Technological breakthroughs that will produce actual pizzas from smartphones or possibly multiply today’s average life expectancy are within reach, he said. To illustrate his point, Kittlaus reminded us that only five short years ago (i.e. before the app craze), the most popular software downloaded to smartphones were ringtones that required “on average 30 clicks.”

While Kittlaus would not reveal what is he is currently working on, it is heartening to know that whatever it is will be conceived close to home. His impact on the Chicago tech scene may not be as profound as a 200-year lifespan, but he just might have the answers to some of our most pressing questions.

Brad Spirrison is the managing editor of and, where consumers find mobile apps they'll love. The Appolicious family of sites (which also includes video review service and mobile apps (for the iPhone and Android devices) are discovery tools to help consumers browse, search and share recommendations for the hundreds of thousands of apps available on the iOS and Android platforms. Spirrison, a longtime Chicago-based media and technology commentator, lives in Lakeview with his wife and young son.

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