It’s coming. Soon. Expect to see initial offerings late this year.
After all of the fuss about UI design, we are going to start throwing it all in the trash can. Part overdone fad and part long needed simplification, the Graphic User Interface (GUI) has reached the end of it’s days. It’s not dead but it’s headed for Social Security.
While some things need to be done visually, many things do not. Complex searches, status visualizations and video (among other things) will always want to be visualized. Stories, short answers, nuggets of information, simple searches, greetings, simple messages are more easily communicated with voice or text.
Just as mobile eventually settled into a malleable complement to complex visual screens, the soon to be emerging tools will have a solid place in the ecosystem. In some ways, text and voice interfaces are better suited to mobile than an invasion of little tiny web pages turned out to be. Now that the average person only uses 3 apps on their smart phone, we are hunting for ways to keep the phone smart and getting smarter.
Walk into any major carrier cell phone store today and you will see the emerging internet of things. Thermostats, drones, a kajilllion little tiny speakers, phones powering TVs, light bulbs, fitness measuring devices, scales, blood pressure monitors, and many unnameable gizmos fill the shelves hunting for an audience. You’ll be talking to them on your phone. That’s why they’re there. You need the complicated setup for operation but the daily working involves talking to or texting the thing.
Each of the major technology companies (Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Salesforce, IBM) and a number of smaller ones (pay attention to FIN) have a major project to create Artificial Intelligence. What they all discovered is that a comprehensive Artificial Intelligence is neither practical or possible. It will be millennia before a machine has the processing power to know everything.
But, it doesn’t really have to, does it? It just needs to know the answer to the question you just asked it. The non-graphic interface will be an expert in a particular arena (or two or ten). It will help you with the task at hand.
Here are the major players. The smart money is betting on the upstart.
- Watson will be remembered as the progenitor. First to market and first to understand that AI is modular, IBM is very busy trying to keep and accelerate its lead. It is burdened by its corporate view of pricing. AI has to have consumer uptake and IBM isn’t very good at the consumer stuff.
- Amazon is the surprising market leader. Its Echo moved stealthily from concept to heart of the smart home over the past year. Amazon knows retail and mastered the enterprise market with its massive web services business. Alexa is her name.
- Google’s Tensor-Flow is just what you’d expect from Mountain View. It’s a set of tools to power machine learning, which is the heart of AI. The voice of Google AI is also female. Google regularly publishes academic quality research on the subject. Again, as you’d expect, it’s nerdy and impenetrable.
- Siri is becoming a spinster. First to the consumer markets, the initial efforts were clunky. Now, no one turns Siri on. And vice versa.
- True to form, Salesforce has a number of acquisitions that focus on aspects of AI and machine learning. While you can expect it to emerge, there are no sightings of the company’s AI. I’d imagine that their AI would be a guy named Arty. (Arty Ficial, get it)
- Fin expresses the real driver here: they are sick of apps. They are building conversational intelligence that works with a combination of human and machine input. Their intelligent bet (get it) is that having a tool that works is a better way to succeed than having a tool that theoretically ought to work.
Let this piece serve as your warning. You will need to understand non-graphic intelligent systems in the same way that you understand mobile tools. They are coming to HR, beginning as usual, in Recruiting.