So much is going on out there in the computing world that has huge effects on how we’ll live our life, and on how we see privacy, and what constitutes democracy, and worse, that the inevitable changes will happen faster than we are really ready for.
Fasten your seatbelt and come with me on a little tour of history.
When you first came across the concept of computing the computer software, that buffer between the hardware and you, was operated via levers and switches. Then came screens, and Bill Gates and his DOS operating system, and Apple’s Macintosh and then various Windows operating systems. And then browsers and the Internet.
40-50 years ago if you were involved with computers you operated with command line systems like MS-DOS, Unix or CP/M, and in the early days you would know languages like Assembly, Cobol, or Fortran high level programming languages among many others, then 30-40 years ago computing moved to graphical interfaces with point and click to simplify your life. Computing had become something you did not have to be a geek to do. Finally in the 90s the internet came into our lives and the browser ruled.
These developments changed everything, how you did things, how you ran your business and affected education and became indispensable to our new way of life.
Now computing has become mobile, apps came about to fill our smartphones and our time, yet a revolution in operating systems is under way as I’m writing.
The future is going to be radically different. Artificial Intelligence [AI] will change all that and right now there is a race on.
The technology giants like Google, Microsoft and Apple want to be first, perhaps not surprising when you think of how profitable Microsoft’s control of the previous age has been.
Last year Google announced a series of hardware products like ‘Google Home’ speaker, ‘Pixel’ smartphone and their VR headset ‘Daydream View’. But this is not where their fortune lies because software is better business, and they are producing the hardware as a means to place their ‘Google Assistant’, which is AI based, into our homes. ‘Assistant’ is part of all of these products and through them Google want to become the centre of our lives whichever way we connect.
Apple has its own ‘Siri’ and Microsoft has ‘Cortana’, conversational assistants, and Amazon has ‘Alexa‘, all operating systems of the future. No more pointing, no more typing, the power of AI harnessed to serve us and our every need.
Walk into a room and say: ‘Switch on the lights’, ‘play me my favourite tune’, or ‘call a taxi’, ‘what’s the name of the Minister of the Aged?’. The point here is that someone is listening or rather something will be listening. No keyboard required.
In your car you say: ‘start the car’, in the lift it is: ‘third floor, please’, in the bathroom it may be: ‘run me a bath’ or ‘start the shower at 40 degrees’. No more screens. Now it is chat or ‘conversations’, and they will follow us from room to room, to the car, to the office and to bed.
We already have scales speaking your weight, but now add advice about diet, or when you are out for your walk your glasses tell you when your sun exposure has reached a limit.
The effect of these changes will indeed be huge, just imagine what no screens will mean for advertisers, with digital advertising having to be rethought, and search and online networking impacted.
No wonder that there is a race on to define the new operating system to take the lead, and the Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon who as the first movers will work very hard to become the winner or winners; imagine a Marketer’s dream come true to see all the data on our everyday lives, as do NSA which cannot wait for every room to be listening.
An exciting future or a nightmare?
Whichever, it is a future with plenty of opportunities for the bold.