The technology world is typically known for changing at a fast pace and constantly innovating. When anyone learns that I am involved in the tech industry, they must assume that I am somehow related to Nostradamus – they all want to know what is the next big thing in technology or what is the future for some now product.

All I can say with any certainty is that what is available today will seem incredibly inadequate when tomorrow comes – but today is the best technology we have today.

When I do start to look into my crystal ball though I see some major developments in the world of Artificial Intelligence. One story in particular caught my eye over the last few days. When I currently walk into my regular coffee shop, the experienced barista looks at me and says good morning and tells me they will start to make my normal cappuccino (boring I know). I visit them because they make good coffee and they remember my order. I call it good customer service.

The world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) seeks to remove humans from the equation. One Sydney café now uses facial recognition software to recognise their customers as they walk in and tell the barista the normal order for the customer. Just when you thought your barista was impressing you by remembering your name and order, it seems that the world of AI covers the shortcomings of a poor barista. When the barista says, “Good morning John, would you like your normal latte with a caramel shot,” they may just be reading from a screen. And that is OK by me.

That sounds pretty simple – just remembering my coffee order – but this is just the start of what become of everyday life.

We all know about the advances being made in the world of driverless vehicles with my prediction that we will see mass market driverless cars being sold (for a lot of money) within ten years. They will have some limitations on where they can go and what they can do but you will be able to zone out while you drive a car.

It is when you start to combine devices with AI that the real excitement starts. I can ask Siri on my phone “What is the weather?” and she responds by telling me the current temperature and forecast for the day. I can walk into home and say, “OK Google, tell me about my day” and I will hear about the weather from the day and the latest news. Then I can go a step further. I can tell Alexa I am up in the morning and she will turn on my lights and my TV and adjust the heating or cooling in the house depending on what the current temperature is. Combining speech and facial recognition with physical devices – like cars and houses – is where we will see some outcomes that we will be using in day to day life without thinking about it. In the same way that people under the age of 35 give me a confused look whenever I utter the words “before we had mobile phones,” in a generation or two, it will be assumed that humans have always had conversations with computers and that they would take appropriate actions based on those conversations.

We might conjure up scary images (propagated by Hollywood) of how the world will be when we have AI but the reality is that the world will be as it is now because we currently have AI and use it on most days. I no longer vacuum my floor – a robot does it for me. I no longer mow my lawn – a robotic lawn mower does it for me. I choose movies to watch on TV based on recommendations from my streaming provider. I am interacting with AI every single day – as are most people.

The world will be just as it is now – but with my coffee shop getting my coffee order just right even when my regular barista is on holidays. And that is progress!

Mathew Dickerson

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