Start a conversation about Artificial Intelligence and you evoke Hollywood’s vision of the future, full of killer robots, time-travelling cyborgs and sentient machines. That’s a fun, if apocalyptic, view but we’re closer than you think. To the AI, not end of days.
Thanks to our increasingly rapid efforts to connect the world around us, your car will soon drive you to work whilst teaching you Swahili, ordering milk and cheese for your fridge, reminding your significant other you’ll be home late because you’re having an affair with a robot shop assistant, taking a DNA sample from the steering wheel and poking you in the buttocks during your virtual porn session.
CES is once again revealing a selection of crazy devices many of us will never need but the message is the same – they should all talk to each other.
The machines don’t get to hog all the conversation as we’re already used to talking to the digital partners in our lives: Siri, Google, Alexa, Cortana, our cars. The idea works in a home or personal space where we’re all comfortable with a bit of digital banter, but it comes unstuck when we’re expected to talk to our devices in a social situation, wandering down the street, on a train, in the supermarket. This interactive tourette's didn’t help Google with its Glassholes image and I’m not sure this will change with Glass 2.0. It’s all still a bit weird – and noisy if we’re all doing it at the same time.
Speaking of cars (or to them) the tech and automotive worlds really have collided at CES this year. The convergence has been happening over the last decade but there’s never been as much infrastructure in place to genuinely make one relevant to the other as there is this year.
Major announcements have been timed to coincide with CES by big players such as BMW and Ford but it’s a new arrival that has grabbed some of the brightest headlines – Faraday Future. This new kid on the block plans to set up local operations right here in Vegas, with design and production of their first electric vehicle planned to start in 2017.
They revealed their FFZERO1 concept last night and it’s a truly stunning piece of design, not just from a physical product perspective, but also the well considered internal digital design and augmented reality and how this and the experience will translate to our personal devices. They're a young team that prides itself on rapid turnaround and they've designed a connected car from the ground up.
The concept of the connected car doesn’t just refer to a phone and a dashboard, it’s also the communication with the surrounding environment and how this awareness will eventually deliver the first credible autonomous vehicles. You’ll know of my love of cars and an unhealthy fascination with technology so you’d be forgiven for thinking I’m all for self-driving cars. I’ll sit on the central reservation here as I’ll happily hand over the controls on a motorway commute as long as I get the wheel back for the twists and turns of a challenging country road.
For me it’s an unwillingness to hand over the whole experience because I still love driving. For many others, it will be a trust issue as they’ll expect it all to go horribly wrong, or have all their travel data sold to the highest bidder (Google is building a car after all).
Our intelligent connected world holds great promise for things like interactive storytelling (I hinted at this in Mark Peising’s recent article for Publishing Perspectives) or making life simpler when travelling the globe. We’ll also have to wade through a pile of connected crap on the way as manufacturers and designers still seem hell-bent on adding ‘smart’ to everything they make.
It’s only a matter of time before a tabloid headline exposes a man caught having virtual sex with his SmartFridge.
“Siri, write another article about CES”.