Do you love me, Siri?

November 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

“I respect you.”  says Apple’s nascant technology back to me in her monotonous tone.  While some might argue that Apple’s Siri acquisition brings forth a product that is more for show than is actually useful, I am reminded strongly of all my childhood experiences watching Star Wars, Star Trek, or any other science fiction space opera for that matter.  Is this technology limited at the moment… of course, but it also represents the first example of such an interactive experience between humans and computers on a large scale.

So if we look forward to the next 50 years, computer processing power will of course continue to increase (how long it does so according to Moore’s Law is left to be seen), and I fell certain that microprocessors, having both shrunk and smartened up, usage will be expanded to all sorts of applications in our daily lives (think of a smart toaster instead of a smart phone).  Garage doors will know when to open and close on their own, cars will be able to drive themselves (this technology is actually not very far off believe it or not), etc. etc.

While these are extraordinary advances will surely make our lives easier, and I only look forward with outrageous excitement towards the future 50 years improvement in the realm of medicine, I would argue that one of the most noticeable advances would be in the way in which we will interact with computers.  As computers have become more ubiquitous,  we have already seen shifts in the way we input information into them.  The command line gave way to the GUI and mouse, and now the advancement of touch screen technology has completely changed how we interact with our mobile phones.

Siri isn’t the first computer you can talk too, and in many ways it still isn’t the “smartest”.  However, where it stands out is in the fact that it is the first widely available consumer technology which allows you to ask questions in natural language and give you back USEFUL INFORMATION.  This and the conversational approach to its design are the two facets which I think will make voice technology the most significant improvement to our daily lives in the next 50 years.

What do I think the “Siri’s”  of 2061 will “look” like?  Well given the continued advances in processor design, and especially the recent rise of the “system-on-a-chip”, I feel that voice technology will be (a) MUCH more ubiquitous and (b) more independent.  Let me explain what I mean.

By ubiquity, I obviously mean that I feel anything with a processor will be capable of this input, which I feel will be a lot more things by then, and they will be capable of talking with each other.  Think of waking up in the morning, asking your HOUSE what appointments you have that day, and then having it understand you, have a conversation with you, and having your phones calendar updated with any changes you make.

And the true game changer, independence.  Currently, the world seems transfixed by the wonders of “the cloud” and as such is shifting more and more applications in that direction.  Siri, as such, can not work at all without an internet connection.  While this isn’t a big problem in the sense that many more places have internet, I see the Siri’s of the future being smart enough to interact with me in the same way on their own, and know when they need to use the internet to pull a piece of information for me.  It’s the integration of the cloud with us lowly earthlings that makes a truly useful product.

-A.M.A.

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