Three consumer technology trends gained speed in 2017: the shift from fixed to mobile video consumption, as I blogged about previously, the increasing utility and use of voice recognition technology and the adoption of the push model for artificial intelligence platforms and services.
In 2017, voice recognition technology reached the point where it can replace manual data and command entry on a routine basis. Usability is a work in progress – you can’t just look at a screen and say copy that and paste it over here – but the technical capability is there. We just have to learn how to make the best use of it.
However, the more useful it becomes, the more it is tied to massive artificial intelligence platforms, which gives Amazon, Google and Apple a huge advantage. Those three companies are positioning themselves to be the front door for all of our interactions with the digital realm. Think of what it would be like if there were only three companies that made computers, which could then only be used to access the online services those companies offered, or at least blessed.
But at least there are three companies. That’s not quite full competition, but it is enough of a market to produce some competitive checks and balances. No guarantees, though. It still needs watching, and that’s one of the things I’ll do next week at the Consumer Electronics Show. The pre-CES email flood promises a lot of AI-driven products and services.
AI is woven into an increasing array of online services, and the companies using it are not asking for opt-in permission or, indeed, permission at all. Web services, mobile apps and point of sale and similar devices are recognising who we are, or at least who we might be, and proactively tailoring responses, without us even asking.
If you’re not paying particular attention, it seems like simple convenience. You don’t have to work as hard to get what you want, even though you often end up with what an AI system thinks you should want. If you are paying attention, it can be very spooky.
But we will get used to it.