AI’s Next Big Thing is Digital Assistants
Most people think the big disruption coming from AI will be chat interfaces. Basically, ChatGPT for all the things.
But that’s not the thing. The biggest thing—actually the second-biggest behind SPQA—will be Digital Assistants.
What are Digital Assistants? Imagine Siri, but powered by ChatGPT and with access to all of the world’s companies through their APIs.
Most restaurants don’t have full APIs yet, but that’s coming right after.
So when you want something to eat, it can find you the perfect thing by querying all the local restaurant APIs. Or when you want something from Amazon, you don’t have to find an interface and go browsing: you instead tell it what you want and it shows you options you can choose from. When you select, it places the order for you. Sounds cool, but not much different from today, right?
Some won’t share anything with their DA’s, but most will.
Context is everything
There’s about to be a huge difference, and that difference will come from context. Specifically, your Digital Assistant (DA) will know almost everything about you. Not just a few things like your name and your favorite color. No. It’ll know everything. We’re talking about:
Traumatic events from your past
Defining childhood events
Your goals you want to accomplish throughout your life
Your challenges in life
Your daily activity, e.g., exercise, etc.
Your journal entries
When you combine this kind of data with LLMs you can do some unbelievable stuff. Some of these will be separate apps or personalities that become possible, separate from the Digital Assistant itself, but they all play off of having deep context.
I have a whole bunch of these examples in my book on this topic from 2016.
Anticipate when you’ll be sad (think of an anniversary of a death, for example)
Know that you’re getting hangry and arrange some food
Function like a romantic partner if you’re lonely and want a new boyfriend/girlfriend to flirt with
Function like a therapist if you’re wondering why you’re low on energy and feeling angry
Be your life coach when you’re not accomplishing your goals
Order your favorite food at a restaurant via an API so it’s ready when you walk in
Play the perfect song
Imagine having your own digital companion. Your own Tony Robbins. Your own Jarvis. Your own…avatar that represents you in the world. With you all the time.
The key thing about the combination of context (your information) plus an LLM (like GPT-4) is that LLMs thrive on context. Something like GPT-4 is an expert on human psychology and relationships, but it can’t tell you what’s wrong if you don’t describe what’s going on.
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Your DA will be able to answer relationship questions with remarkable accuracy because it’s plugging your actual situation into the oracle. It’s asking the whole of human romantic and human behavior knowledge the best course of action based on your actual background, your previous partners, your current situation, etc.
Same with researching things for you. It’ll know when you sleep, and it’ll collect stuff for you for when you wake up. It’ll filter the news for you. Tell you which emails matter and which to ignore. Which appointments are worth accepting.
It’ll remind you to call your friends and family. It’ll schedule the perfect vacation. All the stuff we’ve been promised, except X100 because it’ll be perfectly tailored to you.
A big puzzle piece for this taking shape will be everything getting an API. What do I mean by everything? Well, most everything. It’ll be the Real Internet of Things, where your DA can reach out and see the status of restaurants, and businesses, and yes—people—all around you.
And you’ll have an API too, which I call a Daemon. It’ll be managed by your DA and will broadcast the right information to the right people at the right time.
If you’re single and in line at Starbucks you might get a chime in your AirPods saying the guy next to you is single. And that he likes hiking. How does it know? Because it’s reading the accessible information in the Daemons all around it, for people, restaurants, menus, cars, and whatever else is out there.
The world will be a sea of available data, including APIs for requesting things, or taking other actions.
So if you walk into a sports bar, and you love table tennis, it’ll change the TV you sit in front of to table tennis. No need to ask someone. Your DA will do it via the restaurant’s /media API that’s part of its Daemon.
Everyone’s talking about ChatGPT, but that’s only the surface of the surface of what’s coming
The real power of AI comes from combining context with LLMs
Digital Assistants will be the next hot thing for consumer AI
There will be many versions of this high-context companion, from romantic to productive to entertaining
The amount of data people will be sharing with such DAs will be significant, and there will be many privacy issues
The benefits will likely outweigh the downsides, as we’re already seeing with ChatGPT today
If you want to understand the next huge innovation in AI, start thinking about what a super-intelligent assistant could do if it knew everything about you.