Monday, December 01, 2014

Choices for rent

The Three Breakthroughs That Have Finally Unleashed AI on the World | WIRED:

'via Blog this'

Wired has a thought-provoking article posted about practical artificial intelligence and its applications -- one written by founder and long-time senior editor, Kevin Kelly. 

The main thrust is that practical artificial intelligence has reached an emergence point. Several maturing software technologies are converging, allowing pattern recognition, language-parsing, deductive reasoning, and machine learning functions to be add to consumer and enterprise applications. 

A new generation of AI enhanced applications are drawing serious seed and Series A funding in Silicon Valley.

Interestingly, the new AI is not a big box, single-engine program or specialized hardware platform. Instead, IBM and others are offering its functions as scalable cloud utilities. Rent or buy and infuse as much of these capabilities into your processing as you need.

I suspect the mega hit application that really sells this practical multi-threaded cloud AI is probably one that we can’t predict at this time. If I had to bet, though, my wager would be that the first majorly profitable application will be in enabling software to interact with people through natural language. Something along the lines of conversationally asking a search engine via phone for a list of local coffee shops with high ratings, the hours and location of the best sounding one, and real time directions -- all without glancing at the screen or resorting to commands. 

Or, to put it differently and drag a related field of hardware and software into the mix: The ultimate in augmented reality is probably an AI-enabled hands-free audio interface that allows users to operate with a minimum of distraction or invested focus during life’s daily tasks. Ask questions, get answers, and develop any further lines of inquiry conversationally. Hopefully with software that can anticipate relevant complications.

As an aside, I suspect that the most common civilian uses of visual augmented reality will probably be for sit down problems that demand a high degree of focus and persistently displayed information.

So that’s the pragmatics of what's kept me fascinated with this article. Much of it has been bouncing around as individual threads in software development circles for some time. Kelly, however, does a solid job of synthesizing some of the major elements and thinking about where they might go taken as a whole.  

Not that it also doesn't have any application in writing speculative fiction or anything…

Next Up: Choices for Rent | Thought experiment 


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