Over the past thirty years I have been writing, speaking, and consulting about technology-driven trends that are coming but difficult for most people to see. Back in 2000, I wrote about one such trend that would hit about now, and here we are, on the brink of experiencing a technology that will provide new opportunities for IT to add strategic value and competitive advantage: ultra-Intelligent electronic agents.
Ever since our first digital search we’ve all spent increasing amounts of time on the Web looking for the information we need. Since most of us are in a hurry, we’ve used various search sites and mega portals over the years, from early players like AOL and Excite to today’s leaders such as Google and Bing.
You know the process: You enter a keyword or phrase to find what you are looking for, and then you manually scan the results (which are usually staggeringly useless in depth) looking for what you really want.
The good news is that the Web has provided us with a world of information at our fingertips. The bad news is that the world of information we have access to is getting much bigger by the day. As a result, we are all spending way too much time looking for the information we really want.
Help is on the way
We are now on the brink of having access to a powerful new tool that will do much of the search and sorting work for us; with far more intelligence and personalization that we have had in the past. Very soon you will find yourself using, on a daily basis, an emerging new technology called an ultra-intelligent electronic agent (UIEA).
Most of us remember using Microsoft Office 97 or 2000, where you experienced the beginnings of an electronic help agent — the paper clip guy that popped out to give you help when you wanted to perform a task. The problem was, it was not an intelligent agent. It was a basic help agent. If it had any intelligence, the first thing it would have showed us was how to disable it! Yet, with all of its many shortcomings, it did give us a very early and primitive preview as to how an intelligent agent might work.
Actually, the first generation of intelligent agents is here and her name is Siri.
Siri, what Apple calls their intelligent personal assistant, is very different from the Google app on your smart phone where you ask for directions or a restaurant and it provides search results. While Google search is intelligent and works very well, Siri gives you an actual agent to interact with.
Siri has a woman’s voice; it has a personality; it can even give you some humor. Essentially, it’s an audio avatar. And if we look to the future a little further out, it’s obvious that soon we’ll be able to see Siri’s face (or visual representation) on a smart phone, tablet, computer, or even TV screen.
Of course, Siri was just the beginning. In no time at all we saw an Android version of Siri, and as you already know, there will be many others.
So what makes Siri an UIEA versus the Google app many of you use on your smart phone? Siri and her competitors are linked to a super-computer in the cloud that can tap into all of the world’s databases and news feeds. It has access to increasing amounts of information coming from everywhere. This is about machines talking to machines and sensors all communicating through the internet. In addition, it’s connected to our personal computing devices with access, granted by you, to your calendar, contacts, and more. All the data goes to a super-computer that feeds into our ultra-intelligent agent, which can then give us the actionable knowledge that’s pertinent to us.