2017: The year we let computers drive our lives!
We’re almost 3 months into this year, and in the coming months, we are going to witness a social change in the society — when we start trusting and using computers in our daily lives in an active way.
For a long time, humans have believed certain things to be possible only in the future — Tony Stark’s Jarvis, human genome sequencing, autonomous vehicles etc. But with the exponential advancement of technologies, we have been able to witness these much sooner than expected.
To imagine the life in future, where Artificial Intelligence has a prominent presence, much of the tasks are automated through robots, humans have been successfully able to sequence the DNA, most of us reside in smart cities actively controlled by robots and drones — a major hurdle is the social change in mindset of people, to be able to trust their lives with these machines, be accustomed to their omnipresence etc. 2017 will be the year of our first major step towards this change in the social mindset. Certain things are responsible for this major change.
Firstly, the explosion of home personal assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa. These, although seemingly similar to Siri, are a lot different from them, particularly because of their omnipresence in a house. They’re always listening — something which would have been a bit disturbing for many a few years ago, but their explosive growth speaks differently now. I would call these devices as an MVP version of Jarvis, where we just use our voice to get some tasks done. No longer you manually switch the lights on, you just ask Alexa to do it for you, you rely on it for your music, alarm clocks and what not.
Secondly, the success and continuous development and improvement of autonomous vehicles. Last year, Tesla proved that it was indeed a viable option, and then at CES this year, we saw major automobile companies seeing this as a threat investing heavily into their own version of autonomous vehicles. You have companies now such as comma.ai that aim to make any car autonomous in under $999 kits (and they’ve open sourced their code). But more importantly, the fact that people have started trusting their lives with self-driving cars, is a huge leap towards the future we imagine.
Thirdly, with the ever increasing use of wearables and health monitoring devices. People rely on their Fitbits and Apple Watches for their day to day fitness regime. It tracks them wherever they go, and records them, right from their step counts, to more sensitive information like their heart rates. It took a while for people to get comfortable with the idea of a third party tracking them and storing information about them. But over time, people did come to realize and appreciate the benefits they gain from such services.
To quote Heath Ledger’s Joker from That Dark Knight, “Madness is like gravity, one little push is all you need”. I believe that the above technologies are the little push we need towards the future we imagine. It is our first step towards the social change in the mindset of people, to be more accepting and trustworthy of these technologies and to be better preprared for the future. We’ve seen it happen independently, but the magic will happen when these converge together. That’s when we’ll have our Jarvis, and smart cities with robots and drones!
We start with 3, but these open gateways for 10 others, and then 100 from thereon — towards the future we were all promised!