The first personal robots assistants are already here, and much like genies, they are trapped inside a physical object. Instead of lamps, we use our phones to cajole them to come out and be helpful. Although willing, they rarely provide perfect assistance and in most situations result in frustration especially when unable to string answers to a couple related questions together.
Like Obama said in his Wired article this past month, I also grew up watching Star Trek and imagining a future for the planet that was semi-utopian.
The idea that people could be fulfilled in their daily lives without the having to grind five or more days a week at a job to sustain a living income was one of the most appealing aspects of the future Earth portrayed in Star Trek. A world evolved beyond the concept cash leads to the inevitable question of, who gets the waterfront homes? Similarly, who should take on the noble task of being the trash man?
I digress I don’t have an answer, but maybe AI can at least help drive the garbage truck, or maybe robots will one day assume an Asimovian form and being useful to us by taking low skill jobs and freeing up humans to achieve their creative potential.
Working AI is the first step to that Star Trek reality. We all remember how you could ask the computer anything in TNG and the computer in true genie like fashion could conjure it for you out of thin air. Since most consumer grade 3d printers are still slow and limited to mostly dollar store grade plastic junk, at least having an AI that can dim the lights, adjust temperature, and look up information for you is a neat luxury of our time.
We’ve got all the right bits of technology congealing in various silos to make interacting with AI a seamless experience, however, no singular company has been able to tie it all together.
- Apple has Siri
- Microsoft has Cortana
- Google has Google Assistant
- Amazon has Alexa
- IBM has Watson
Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, largely to do with where you keep your data or how you interact with those corporations. The problem is that we users are split across all or many of those ecosystems and individual company’s products.
That means none of the current AI’s can truly get to know you on any meaningful or well-rounded level to provide an amazing experience on a daily level like Scarlett Johannsen’s AI character from the movie Her. Wouldn’t you like if Siri or Cortana could do small but time-consuming things like organise your digital files in a better way, customised to you?
It will take co-opetition amongst the big companies & a healthy dose of FOMO to welcome an open AI platform with various data hooks to your email, calendars, schedules, reminders, entertainment preferences, circadian rhythm, behaviours, smart home devices etc to begin feeling like you’ve got a personal butler or extension of yourself actually helping you throughout your week like a Jarvis to Tony Stark.
Companies and more importantly users must be willing to let AI have a peek at data which by its nature could be private such as google searches or email records. Safeguards will have to be put in place to keep this data secure, anonymized and out of the hands of anyone but our digital assistants.
I’m interested in seeing which company can tweak or build the AI platform that can ingest the best data from the most diverse sources, perhaps it will be Viv