“One day the AIs are going to look back on us the same way we look at fossil skeletons on the plains of Africa. An upright ape living in dust with crude language and tools, all set for extinction…”
-Nathan, Ex Machina (2015)
Rarely is A.I. ever discussed without touching on the deep-seated fear of our eradication at the hands of machines. What many folks don’t realize, is that the robot-ruled dystopia comes after we cozy up to the more basic versions of machine learning, which are currently taking on more pervasive roles in society. Relax, though, Siri’s got a long way to go before she begins planning our next mass extinction…
Potential machine insurrection notwithstanding, it’s safe to say that A.I.’s learning capabilities are coming along, and will serve us quite nicely in the very near future. Advancements can be seen working for algorithms like the ones controlling what you see on your favorite social media timelines. In fact, Facebook’s next foray into A.I. will arrive via their rapidly-expanding and hugely popular Messenger (M) platform, where developer kits will soon be widely available– but more on that later.
While messenger bots are set to be game-changers, A.I. personal assistants have already been gaining traction in the average consumer’s life through Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa. Slowly, but surely, these devices are making the Internet of Everything a reality. The next phase of their evolution? Intimate, in-ear versions, that will be all but hidden in plain sight and taking voice commands, then responding back to you with integration as seamless as that of your own inner voice.
Debuted at the last CES, a product like Oakley’s Radar glasses-earbud combo is tailored to answer your voice-command questions like “how many miles did I just run?” Systems like this are especially accurate, as they perform under the context of a small, specialized range of data sets– which is the one caveat about the current iterations of A.I: unless they’re that specialized, accuracy won’t come easily.
Storing vast amounts of data sets is a very expensive endeavor. Amazon, being the giant that it is, runs one of the biggest server networks on the planet, hence their success thus far with Echo. Apple’s Siri, which is still relatively simple (compared to what we’re to expect in the future), is housed in a $1 billion data center. While the future is promising, it sure isn’t getting here before servers shrink in size and cost.
Ever think you’d be able to direct message your favorite brand, and not only get a response back, but receive offers, activations, coupon codes, games, or free downloads? Or shop and make purchases right off the message thread? A.I. will provide messenger platforms with the capabilities necessary to be the next huge wave in social media. Dark social analytics reveal the sizable chunk of traffic they generate via sharing, and companies have already began capitalizing on that. Once developer kits are opened up to the public, a new realm of possibilities will open up, like when Apple did so with the iPhone’s SDK in ‘08.
Sick and tired of Siri’s monotones? Well if voice-activated A.I. earbuds have anything to say about it, it will likely be in a brand-specific voice. Imagine the most interesting man in the world navigating you to the nearest Dos Equis retailer. Brands will not only have to build their apps to be compatible with the voice assistant systems, they’ll be creating their own avatars to interact with users. What’s more representative of a brand’s voice, than a brand’s actual voice? You ask, they answer, and do so, in their most characteristic of tones.
If your voice avatar inside of a user’s ear isn’t intimate enough, then A.I.’s effects on ad targeting will make you bff’s. As the technology improves, A.I. will be able to learn much more efficiently. All those private back-and-forth convos you and your voice assistant have, will result in the building of vast sets of data. Applied to super precise ad-targeting, you’ll never have to remember to buy a refill again. Paying bills, shopping, and other routine online activities that are tracked and recorded will occur almost instantaneously. It’s personalization at its most powerful. Your deepest secrets, your health, and personal preferences, will contribute to forming an unparalleled affinity between you and your favorite brand. So close, you may not be able to tell man/woman from machine voice…