New Year New Dawn – predictions for 2016

Happy 2016 internet. My new years resolution is “to be more beta”

I promise to be more frequent in my updates and opinions for those who listen and rather than striving for perfection I will strive for speed. Perfection can come later. So without further delay see below for my five predictions for 2016, but first some important disclaimers;

  • It is more than likely that everyone who has been bold enough to divine what will happen this year will be both right and wrong in more or less equal measure, i am no exception.
  • For every prediction there will be an equal and opposite prediction.
  • My predictions are focused purely on the areas that interest me at the moment – loads of other things are likely and will happen outside of this.

2016 predictions

  1. Expansion of day to day AI use in normal life by normal people. Sure we have Siri, Google Now, Cortana & Amazon Echo but even more interesting things are to come in 2016. Companies like xdotai, whose AI personal assistant Amy can schedule meetings, will begin to showcase the way in which these assistants can live alongside us, augment our abilities, free up our time or even replace certain functions within our lives or work. I expect 2016 will bring, amongst others, an AI grocery shopping assistant that can take executive decisions and do the weekly shop for you too (something people like Capitan are probably working on).
  2. Dedication of marketing efforts towards AI’s – if we are going to delegate more of our decisions to AI then it stands to reason people will begin to look to influence the choices that the AI makes. This is already happening but there is certainly room for this part of the sector to grow and 2016 looks set to be the year this begins in earnest – Gartner seem to think so too – its something they snappily coined as Marketing to Machines.
  3. More things will link together – cloud based machine learning systems will be linked with AI assistants, In turn these will be linked to Robots (Watson & Pepper – already happening), the connection to humans will become more sophisticated too with things like Amazon Mechanical Turk or Craigslist being used by these AI machines to tap into the human workforce to complete tasks (physical or mental) that it is not equipped to deal with – bringing about the very real possibility of machines using humans as tools in their work – a real reversal of roles!
  4. Smarter machines are going to call into question human behaviour and our role. Take for example driving, almost all the problems with autonomous vehicles have been because of other human road users or because the vehicles are forced to drive on legacy roads designed for use by humans not machines. Once a critical mass of autonomous vehicles are on the streets and the information from this is analysed the conclusion would be clear. The problem is human drivers. Eventually we will have to accept that we need to hand over control in some areas to machines that are better equipped than us to handle certain types of task. 2016 will see the beginning of this debate.
  5. Virtual reality will fail to break out of the Entertainment & Gaming category. When the platform was initially (re)launched hobbyists and big business alike were on an even footing with most using the Unity Engine (one of the first to support the Rift). Simple demos were released that showcased the breadth of possibilities using the emergent VR platform across experiences, healthcare, games, education, entertainment and beyond. Fast forward to today and both big and small development houses are in the driving seat, the game is all but up for the hobbyist. The Unreal Engine (that powers most blockbuster games) is now the platform of choice for VR development as most new Demos show. This undoubtedly produces incredible games for the platform however it has most likely come at a price. 2016 will be the year VR takes the entertainment world by storm with big names like Oculus, Sony, Microsoft, HTC, Netflix etc all releasing hardware, software & content for the platform. This massive boost in VR development driven by the money in the Entertainment industry is great for ‘consumers’ & great for advertisers but unfortunately not so great for the healthcare professionals or educators who are still waiting for the promise of VR to transform their industries. I can only hope 2017 is the year VR breaks free (of the Entertainment & Gaming industries)

Over and out

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