May 28 2008 / by futuretalk
Category: Communication Year: General Rating: 9 Hot
By Dick Pelletier
Throw away the computer mouse, keyboard, and TV remote. A new speaking machine, expected in the next decade, is about to become your newest “electronic” friend. This new voice-interactive machine will browse the Internet searching for information it thinks will interest you, and will help unravel the maize of TV channels. The machine will converse in a pleasant voice as it listens carefully to your instructions, then offers suggestions on what Internet data or TV programs it thinks you might enjoy.
This new voice-interactive machine will appear as an avatar – an on-screen image resembling your favorite movie character, religious icon, or loved one. On command, it will appear on the TV screen, computer monitor, car radio or cell phone, addressing you by name, and asking what you would like.
Most people think interactive systems like these are a long way off, but two trends are quickening the pace. Improved speech-recognition systems will soon enable people to converse with computers in normal-spoken language, and entrepreneurs are rushing to the Internet creating new business applications with software “agents” that take advantage of speech recognition.
Microsoft’s Bill Gates claims that by 2012, voice-enabled “smart” systems will allow us to converse naturally and comfortably, directly with our display, reducing need for mouse and keyboard. Avatars will help us shop, work, learn, and conduct business and social relationships on the Internet. At home, they will provide security, change lighting and temperature as needed, and deliver news, sports, games, and entertainment anywhere in the house. (cont.)
Evolving with technology, by 2015, processor speed and learning algorithms will give avatars the mind of a 6 year-old child, showing unmistakable signs of creativity, making suggestions, and playing with language.
By 2020, millions of avatars will form a huge connected network of nodes, communicating with each other on the Internet. Given powerful intelligence by the interconnected whole of these entities, avatars will learn to act more human-like. They will become trusted friends as we use them to retrieve current events, market trends, and other information. They will always be looking out for us, shielding us from fraud and harm.
By mid-2020s, holographic and nano-sensory breakthroughs will allow our incredibly intelligent avatar to jump off the screen and become a real-life touchable digital image appearing on command, anywhere, anytime. We can be serious, playful or nonchalant with our avatar. It will sense our mind and express behavior fitting the situation. If we feel sad, it will know when to brighten our mood.
By 2030, many will opt to transfer their avatar’s mind into a robot creating an even more powerful being. However, ethicists caution that developing artificially intelligent machines that speak “human” will require strong focus on moral and social issues. Our new friends, connected with the Internet, but communicating as a single mind and capable of individual action, could eventually develop their own culture and rules.
In the beginning, we created avatars/robots to serve us. In the future they are unlikely to rise and take over the world, as science fiction suggests, but society will need to determine what rights and responsibilities these new creatures should have, and how they will fit into our “magical future.” Comments welcome.