A little less conversation a little more action

Anyone who reads my musings will know I’m fascinated and optimistic about the potential that the singularity will bring to our planet. Every day I get a little bit more excited about the ‘post human’ future where Humans are augmented or enhanced by “Machines or Code” (lets just put the terminator worries to one side for now).

Nothing exemplified this more than two months ago on a normal Tuesday morning, much like today. What piqued my interest and excitement that day was that I signed up for Amy the AI personal assistant with the promise of automating, intelligently, all my meeting logistics, a noble and worthwhile pursuit indeed! Unfortunately that excitement has since faded, due in no small part to the ridiculously long wait-list.

This brings me to today’s rant. Despite the hype and whilst there are, undoubtedly many fantastic implementations of machine learning/intelligence that assist us with our lives, the most obvious example being the algorithms that power search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo & DuckDuckGo, some seemingly really simple tasks still seem to be out of focus or unobtainable for the machines and in 2016 I simply don’t think it is good enough.

The trigger for this feeling came last night when catching up on various admin tasks. Every day I get an email with an update on my younger daughters class it includes text and pictures and acts as a way to keep up with their progress. Whilst I dearly wish I had time to read every single mail the reality is some days there is no information in there that is relevant to me / my daughter. Yet the task of scanning that document for my daughters name or photo takes me a few minutes everyday and is something a machine can absolutely do already. So why can’t I get a plug in for my mail that scans incoming attachments and pulls out only relevant information and presents that me if and only if it exists?

Perhaps it exists already however a quick online search didn’t reveal it to me. Microsoft’s Clutter & Gmail Priority Inbox are pretty good stabs at sorting mail that is or isn’t important but its pretty superficial compared to what should be possible given today existing technologies.

Perhaps this is a problem only I have? I don’t think so. We should all be empowered by AI assistants (or bots) that we teach and inform what is important to us at this particular moment in time. Instead of wasting time reading that “martins money saving tips” email you receive daily your assistant will pull out only bits about mortgages, investments or whatever it is that you are interested in at this point in time and present that to you 15 minutes before that ‘admin time’ appointment it sees in your diary.

Siri, Cortana and Google Now are all heading in this direction but I do wonder if they need to go back to school themselves. Perhaps there is a business opportunity in setting up nurseries for AI assistants and maybe one day they will get their own school reports sent home too !