Tech in 2016: The advent of artificial intelligence and digital assistants

After desktop computers, the internet and smartphones, it is time for the next technological transformation because of the advent of artificial intelligence.


Apple was the first to introduce a digital assistant when it acquired Siri and baked it into the OS. The makers of Siri went on to create Viv, a realisation of their original vision for Siri. Viv was acquired by Samsung this year.

Despite the initial head start with Siri, Apple lost ground over the subsequent years by being very secretive about its research. As Apple employees were not allowed to publish research, the best talent was not attracted to the company. All that changed with the hire of prominent Carnegie Mellon University researcher Russ Salakhutdinov earlier in the year. Apple has already gone ahead and published its first research paper.

Tech in 2016: The advent of artificial intelligence and digital assistants

Apple's research allows them to train machines on image data sets, without annotations of the details. Image: University of Cambridge/ Max Planck Institute for Informatics

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google remarked on the onset of a remarkable new disruptive technology at the October hardware event by Google. Every ten years or so, a transformational technology comes along that changes everything. In the mid 80s this was the desktop computer, in the mid 90s, this was the internet, in the mid 2000s, the smartphone revolution began. We are in the mid 2010s, and the next big change will come about because of Artificial Intelligence.

pichai-october-2

US President Barack Obama said in an interview that it was necessary to imbibe artificial intelligences with human values. Humans have to make harsh decisions, and Obama raised the question of whether machines should be allowed to make such decisions. For example: Can a self driving car be trusted to decide between running over a pedestrian or involving the passengers of the vehicle in a fatal crash? The International Convention on Conventional Weapons meet for a review conference, where they agreed to regulate lethal autonomous vehicle systems (LAWS), or killer robots. The White House said that it was tweaking policy to handle the huge number of human jobs that are now going to be done by machines.

The Amazon Echo and the Google Home

The Amazon Echo and the Google Home

The year saw the growth of an all new product category called smart speakers. The Echo by Amazon was a pioneer in this category, with a voice controlled digital assistant hardware for living spaces. The Amazon Echo Dot was introduced this year and Google made its debut in the smart speaker space with Google Home. Microsoft hinted at a high-end smart speaker by Harman Kardon. According to analyst firm, Gartner, smart home speakers are expected to be a $2.1 billion industry by 2020.

AI was the talk of the town at the ReCode tech conference, with discussions around AI by IBM, Google, Microsoft and Facebook. Elon Musk even suggested that human brains should be hooked up to computers with neural laces so that mankind can keep up to machines. Amazon.com Inc, Alphabet unit Google, Facebook Inc, IBM and Microsoft have teamed up to create a non profit organisation that hopes to increase the awareness about aritificial intelligence in the minds of the public. Here is a look back at the biggest artificial intelligence stories of the year.

google-deepmind-lab

Google

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg even coded his own personal digital assistant

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg even coded his own personal digital assistant

Facebook

cortana_640x360

Microsoft

Echo, Kitchen

Amazon

Bragi wearables for workplaces are powered by the AI capabilities of Watson.

Bragi wearables for workplaces are powered by the AI capabilities of Watson.

IBM

 

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.