- Unsupervised Learning
- The Future: Personal Assistants (Companions)
The Future: Personal Assistants (Companions)
As technology continues to be come more compact and more powerful, I think one of the biggest consumer/business breakthroughs is going to come in the form of a personal assistance application with pseudo/quasi AI capabilities.
Imagine an application that spends 24 hours a day optimizing your life. It will probably run from some sort of hosted provider in order to benefit from specialization, but it will be marketed as “living” on your personal system, i.e. the single, mobile device that everyone will have. Let’s call it your “companion”.
The basic functionality will essentially work like this: you start by going through this in-depth enrollment process with the system. It’ll greet you, you’ll skin it (most will likely turn its interface into a beautiful woman) and it will proceed to ask you about yourself. You’ll tell it what kind of news you like, your favorite holidays, your top 10 foods, the kinds of products you care most about, who your friends are, etc.
A Hassle Proxy
Using all this information it’ll organize your life. It’ll sit in between you and the digital world — filtering emails, fetching pertinent news for you, organizing it according to your preferences, etc. It’ll learn who you want to be interrupted for when a call comes in. It’ll learn who to put on or remove from your spam list. It’ll learn your preferred way of receiving news. Should “she” read it to you? Send you an email? Build a web page for you to read an aggregated summary from?
Here’s how I see it being put into practice: you wake up in the morning by some sound she makes for you. Rooster, soothing voice, whatever. She proceeds to ask you questions about whether or not you want your news now, do you want to hear who sent you email while you were asleep, etc. At any time you can modify the application’s behavior by giving commands like, “Don’t ask me about news in the morning anymore.”
Based on your tone the app will answer back with stuff like, “Sorry…no need to be grumpy about it.” Imagine the customizations here. This will be THE killer app. The life manager for business people, and the digital companion for consumers. More ideas:
“Let’s review my news interest items. I don’t want to hear anything else about the new Playstation 10; I don’t have time to monitor that anymore. Show me everything cool about building patios — and I’m going to use oak, by the way.”
“Hold calls from Julie from now on and give them to me in my daily summary.”
“Go and collect everything there is to know about spaghetti sauce. I am making it tonight. Focus on the Italian approach.”
You, Times Ten
So the idea here is that this application will then go and run through all these pseudo-intelligent algorithms (that are constantly updated and improved) in order to do what you want it to do, not just what you told it to do. The difference is massive. And as technology evolves, it’ll become better and better at it.
For consumers this will do everything from fetching the best recipes to collecting porn for you for when you get home from work. “Here’s the stuff I found for you while you were gone.” And it will be with you all day as well, chiming in when something major happens. “Breaking news, Daniel…Toyota just bought Ford. You want me to connect you to CNN’s video feed?” “Oh, Michael just sent an invite for dinner tonight, should I voice him or just reply with a yay or nay?”
Humans Are Better, But They’re More Expensive
Personal assistants make powerful people ten times more powerful, but so few people can afford to hire someone to manage their lives in this way. This will be the killer app because it brings at least some of that functionality to everyday people. It’s going to be so sick. Think of the marketing. Japan will have it first (of course), and the major updates to the products are going to be insane.
Imagine the skinning options alone. As the apps avatars get better and better people are going to become “attached” to their companions. It’ll be a new disorder, there will be new experts to talk about how someone’s DC (digital companion) ruined their marriage, etc.
Yeah, this is the future. Hell, I should talk to some people and see if anyone’s moving in this direction yet. I’d love to contribute some ideas to such a product. Not only is it cool to potentially improve the efficiency of millions of people, but the consumer side has billions of dollars of potential. This is the “must have” application.