Will Apple’s Artificial Intelligence Devour Social Search?
This is an opinion piece looking at the future of Apple’s A.I. and the impact on search.
You’ve listened and read all you can digest about today’s Apple event and the unveiling of the next gen. iPhone. Record sales are anticipated for the device and this time around, though the hardware is sure to incrementally improve -as it does with each release - the true buzz is focused on the software and more specifically on the new artificial intelligence component simply dubbed Assistant.
You have most likely already read what this new software can do, such as take a voice command like: “Find me Chinese food within 2 miles.” and deliver to the user a few choice selections while in parallel dial a cab or offer you a best route to walk, drive or bike to the destination. It is fair to assume that other recommendations based on time elapse can now occur. By this I mean after an hour has gone by – and the phone knows you’ve in fact made it to a Chinese restaurant – a next nudge can be delivered for dessert or perhaps after dinner drinks at a new location. That linear recommendation of course can be based on the day of the week – Tuesday night dessert vs. Saturday night cocktails - and personal preferences and purchasing habits. It is the intelligent combination of tasks and searches you would anyway perform to improve a human experience that is most impressive to me. To bolster the point, let’s take a quick look at the progression of how humans have searched over the last 2 decades.
It Was 20 Years Ago Today…
We let our fingers do the walking through some version of a “Yellow” book. We perhaps read a print review before hand, dialed busy restaurant after busy restaurant until we secured a reservation, we scribbled on a tiny piece of paper the # to a local cabbie (or two if we were really prepared) and we headed out. You had to do a great deal of prep work and research to get it all right and once out you asked for a recommendation on what to do next from the table sitting next to you regardless if their tastes at all matched yours. Hey, we all survived and at the time this was simply the way you did it. But then things got better.
A Decade Ago, I Never Thought I Would Be…
We were empowered and had more data than we frankly knew what to do with. We weren’t in the social or mobile era yet, but now we’d read digital reviews, Google almost everything, surf websites, email friends and ask for advice, book reservations through the web and formulate a more robust plan for an evening out. The delivery mechanism of the traditional computer wasn’t perfect, but hey, it was vastly improved over the “Yellow” book right?
Tap the Android and Twist the App.
Within the last 5 years a lot has transpired. Phones got smart, social got huge, advertising based on location and preferences exploded, mobile apps. were born and literally took over how we interface with brands and data – so much so that brand new personal computer operating systems, such as the yet to be released Windows 8, mimics that of an appified/touch experience versus a traditional PC experience – and all of this literally altered how humans make decisions. Now, urbanites will hail a cab through one app., then upon entering the cab, shake their iPhone or Droid device and make a choice based on what UrbanSpoon serves up, then reference Yelp to see what their social friends are saying about the newest club and after consuming a bit too much alcohol a bit too far away from their apartment, they leverage an app. like Hotel Tonight and find a room within 3 minutes of walking distance at a very discounted price.
This is pretty radical change regarding how humans make decisions. If your sensing a pattern it’s because it’s evident. People are of course more reliant and far more trusting of the technology to deliver to them sound advice, often eminating from their peers and social friends. So is all of this about to change yet again?
Today is the Greatest…
What does Apple’s new A.I. mean for all of this? Well we know it won’t happen overnight but, is it too far fetched to envision a not too distant future where instead of accessing all of the singular applications and social search sites mentioned just above, the device just does this for you? It tracks your preferences, your social likes, your purchasing habits and more and with one simple command – “Find me Chinese food within 2 miles.” – you are not only served the most prescient data – the location of the restaurant with reviews/directions – but your next series of possible moves and decisions for the next 3 to 6 to 12 hour span?
What we don’t know is of course how all of this data will be delivered to the user. Will a next generation of apps., like Yelp, simply feed into Apple’s A.I.? Will brands pay for positioning as they currently do in the App Store so when you trigger a command, those paying for illumination come up more often? How will this affect the Groupon’s of the world if the user never has to sign-up for a Groupon to get real-time courting via directed offers? I’m certainly unsure about all of this, but I am certain there is a bounty of amazing revenue in this pot to be had. And it appears to me, at least at this very early juncture, that Apple will be in an amazing position to capitalize on all of this. Suddenly, Apple is a search company and perhaps the very best one we’ve ever known due to intelligent recommendations that come to us before we even ask. That changes things.
What do you think? There is so much yet untold in this tale and I’d appreciate to hear your take on what Apple’s new A.I. means to the world of search and beyond. Drop a comment and spark a new conversation.
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Image Credit: ispazio.net, images.businessweek.com