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August 05, 2015

Dave: 'HAL, Are You My Phone Now?'

Artificial Intelligence is something we are going to learn to live with in this world. Sometimes it will be amazingly good and sometimes it will be like a call center with a bad connection and no one understanding each other’s accent.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft are all competing to provide us with digital assistance. Each company has its strength.

Google knows us from the Web, Amazon knows our buying habits, Apple knows us by our apps and Microsoft knows us from our gestures. For today, all of these systems have one thing in common: That is, they don’t intend to have anything in common.

So for many of us the assistant will not be our assistant, but the assistant of the device, site or service we are using. Perhaps we should call them legion.

I am not sure that is the right approach, but I think that will change in the long run.

If you look at Nordstrom’s history of letting a single salesman assist you in any part of the store, it’s a very good strategy only when the trust has been created. Otherwise, it may mean you are being limited. 

My expectation is that Microsoft will be the most likely to be an enabler for other sites, but I think the technology is not mature enough for that to happen. 

Google has an advantage in the way that their voice recognition system is already tied into their neural networking capabilities. However, Google is more likely the equivalent of a wire shark listening in and remembering rather than actually delivering the needs. Like their apps, the value is not direct.

Apple and Amazon, then, may be the ones that look like the money-makers to start in this field.

For many of us, we have seen efforts to do this before. The technology has definitely improved dramatically, but like many of the apps, it benefits from scoring toward common requests and can be frustrating for an individual with specific requirements.

In the end, smaller contextual solutions maybe the better solution, but for today the leaders’ focus may be good enough for most or our needs.

Right, HAL?

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