What do Napoleon, Robert Oppenheimer, and Abraham Lincoln have in common (aside from being famous)? Allegedly, they were all horrible multitaskers. In fact, multitasking, or the ability to deal with more than one discrete task at once, is not necessarily something we humans were ever naturals at.
The concept of artificial intelligence (AI) has a long history in science fiction. Many historians cite the 1927 film, Metropolis as the first on-screen appearance of robots that had some kind of machine intelligence. Since then, AI has not been treated as kindly or with as much wonder. 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Terminator movies and dozens of other films usually have AI as a sinister force bent on the destruction of the human race that created it. In more recent times, as AI has moved beyond sci-fi and into our daily lives as a force for good (or at least one that can reorder toilet paper for us), we are becoming more sympathetic to it—more C3PO and WALL-E vs HAL.
Recent reports of the amazing eavesdropping power and home control Amazon’s Alexa has (similar to other voice-assistances) should not surprise. Its inherent in how these virtual assistants work.
Even as early adopters today are already speaking with their household appliances, lighting systems, home security network, and computing devices through cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) enabled systems, one question comes to mind. Which AI system will lead the way to eventual mass market adoption: Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s homeKit, Microsoft’s Cortana personal assistant, or perhaps the recently announced Google Assistant? Each system offers a fast-growing dose of cloud-enabled artificial intelligence in an interactive format, allowing it to serve as a personal assistant, butler, and perhaps in the future, companion.