Virtual assistants will eventually play such an important role in our lives that they will be written into our wills, according to Chris Brauer, co-director of CAST at Goldsmiths, University of London.
Speaking about the newly published results of a research project between Goldsmiths and Mindshare at the Re.Work Technology Summit in London today, Brauer described how the virtual assistants (VAs) of the near future would play such a vital role in our lives from childhood to death that many will become reliant on them.
While the proto-VAs of today, such as Apple’s Siri, tie the user into one predecided range of services, these future versions will be modular, enabling users to tailor them exactly to their needs using tools developed by a wide variety of organisations.
They will be able to use a mix of tools including emotional recognition systems, natural language recognition and beacon technology to do everything from keep on top of your health to manage your finances.
The result will be a VA that knows you intimately, and which may even use algorithmic discretion to make decisions for you.
“In theory the virtual assistant becomes something that knows you better than you know yourself,” said Brauer, adding that the first VAs would appear 4-5 years from now.
The report, which has been developed following an extensive ethnographic research study, found a wide range of areas in people’s lives where the aid of a virtual assistant would be welcome.
It will be able to aid with community and social activities, such as telling you a friend is nearby and arranging meetups with family or mates by liasing with their own VAs.
It will also be able to help with finances by monitoring your budget and spending or letting you know when an apparently good deal is actually a bit of a rip-off.
When you are out and about, the VA’s access to crowd knowledge will help you find the best restaurant, and environmental sensors will be used to tell you when you need more suncream or to take precautions against pollution.
One of the biggest values of VAs will be their collective intelligence.
VAs will be able to tap into collective information to, for example, find the best way to aid a sufferer of depression.
The amount we rely on our VAs will inevitably result in some of us getting them implanted straight into our bodies, a step which will feel increasingly normal.
Brauer likened this to the way we have moved from syncing devices using cables to over wireless – in a similar way it will be largely seen as a step to improve productivity.
“We will see implants with this, no question,” he said.