Technology advances not so much when it exhibits innovation, but when it becomes truly practical for everyday people. 2015 saw a lot of that as voice assistants started to show how they could live in the home and in mobile devices, always listening for their names, and super computers got to work on language translation and cancer cures.
In 2016, we’ll see an acceleration of that shift of technologies from the drawing board and geek-only curiosities to consumer devices that change our lives in ways small and big. Here are a handful of technologies that are on the cusp of major action in the coming year.
For decades, artificial intelligence was a thing best understood by sci-fi fanatics and screenwriters. Regular people simply didn’t encounter it in any tangible way. That started to change n 2011 with Apple’s Siri voice assistant, but 2015 turned out to be a watershed year for computer algorithms that could ape human thought and interaction.
In 2016, products like Apple’s Siri, Google Now, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana will continue their steady march into our lives, especially as tech companies begin to connect the dots between the smart home and office, mobile devices and these always-listening assistants. Soon we’ll all be programming our coffee makers with voice commands and getting love advice from our phones.
Simultaneously, the most powerful of these artificial minds (think IBM’s Watson and its cognitive computing mind — which can make a mean barbeque sauce) will try their hands at helping world leaders solve intractable problems. These artificial minds won’t offer assistance by delivering nonsense technobabble advice, but by literally listening to world chatter on social media, analyzing the data and returning concrete information and forward-looking intel that humans might not be able to synthesize on their own.