One day your voice will control all your gadgets (and they will control you)
January 14, 2019

From the MIT Technology Review:

Everything you own in the future will be controlled by your voice. That's what this year's CES, the world's largest annual gadget bonanza, has made abundantly clear.

Google and Amazon have been in fierce competition to put their assistants into your TV, your car, and even your bathroom. It all came to a head this week in Las Vegas, where the full line-up of voice-enabled products underscored the scope of each company's ambitions.

Maybe it seems like a wasteful side effect of capitalism that you can now ask Alexa to lift your toilet cover (or maybe not—you do you), but there's more to the ubiquity of voice interfaces than a never-ending series of hardware companies jumping on the bandwagon.

It's tied to an idea that leading AI expert Kai-Fu Lee calls OMO, online-merge-of-offline. OMO, as he describes it, refers to combining our digital and physical worlds in such a way that every object in our surrounding environment will become an interaction point for the internet—as well as a sensor that collects data about our lives. This will power what he dubs the "third wave" of AI: our algorithms, finally given a comprehensive view of all our behaviors, will be able to hyper-personalize our experiences, whether in the grocery store or the classroom.

But this vision requires everything to be connected. It requires your shopping cart to know what's in your fridge so it can recommend the optimal shopping list. It requires your front door to know your online purchases and whether you're waiting for an in-home delivery. That's where voice interfaces come in: installing Alexa into your fridge, your door, and all your other disparate possessions neatly ties them to one software ecosystem. It's quite the clever scheme: by selling you the powerful and seamless convenience of voice assistants, Google and Amazon have slowly inched their way into being the central platform for all your data and the core engine for algorithmically streamlining your life...

Continue reading at the MIT Technology Review...

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