Forgive me, there is nothing like the passing of a landmark birthday for the excuse for a bit of reminiscing. I got to thinking about what I thought the future held way back when I joined Logica.
I have fond memories of a project for France Telecom which considered the application of machine translation over the phone. I did a bit of globe- trotting to countries and organisations where multi-lingual activities were a bit of a stumbling block and made lots of good recommendations regarding conditions for uptake. These days, Google Translator would probably be your first port of call.
I’m thinking back to the days when the goal of AI (artificial intelligence) was to replicate the functioning of the brain, maybe it was because we didn’t know enough about the brain but I don’t think the future went to plan. Today’s AI no longer tries to recreate the brain and instead relies on smart algorithms to perform discrete tasks which are probably a million miles away from a Turing test, the holy grail of AI. I think someone did a bit of a re-think and got technology to focus on something that is more in line with what machines are good at. That is the dull repetitive bits and leave the fun bits to us. The examples are all around us and are all pervasive; from Amazon making recommendations (and getting it right) about what we should be reading next based on our previous purchases through to credit card companies tracking fraud. Danny Hillis from Thinking Machines (massively parallel supercomputers) reckons that, “the computers are in control, we just live in their world”. That is only a little bit scary! Mind you Google (?) are apparently testing cars that can drive themselves with only minimal human involvement, scarier still!
But do you know what? Even though I’m getting older, the future is still huge. I have written a position paper considering the future of the User Interface. Let me know what you think.