Artificial intelligence is here. You hear it in Siri. You see it in applications which know more than you know about you. You find it everywhere these days, and though barely out of pre-school and almost ready for the first grade, Apple and Google are betting big on AI.
For now, all these personal digital assistants– Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and perhaps Samsung’s Bixby– are vying for your attention and destined to show up in one way or another on every gadget you own or will own in the future.
Assistant, Siri, and Alexa already control a number of gadgets in the home and will control more every year until we strike down these future overlords.
This week, Google launched a bunch of home speaker systems to compete Amazon Echo and Alexa, and Apple’s Siri and HomeKit. For example, you can talk with Assistant to Google’s new and expensive Chromebook, tap Pixel Buds wireless earbuds (which also translates from one language to another in almost real time– that’s cool) to hear music or talk on the phone.
OK, I get it. AI is everywhere, and AI can both listen and speak. But can AI think?
All these tech giants seem to think that artificial intelligence will be the next great platform, so they’re betting big that hardware will be home to software that listens, talks, and, someday, thinks.
I see a few issues that, going forward, should be considered. First, proprietary devices will have proprietary AI. Echo has Alexa but not Assistant (still the stupidest name of the bunch), Siri, Cortana, or Bixby. Google’s new branded home products likely won’t contain Alexa, Siri, Cortana, et al. That makes sense for first party hardware makers but not third party manufacturers.
Here’s what I mean.
Apple is a hardware company, but the vast majority of Apple’s devices– hardware– each of which runs Siri, also allows Alexa, Assistant, and even Cortana. They don’t do as much as Siri but Apple lets them onto the playground.
Now, how about the many thousands of electronic gadget makers who cannot afford to build their own artificial intelligent systems? Sonos speakers is a good example. They announced that Alexa, Assistant, and Siri would be able to control future speakers. Already we see electronic devices which house Alexa and Siri and some which house all three, including Assistant.
All these so-called AI giants are big in software but only one is big in hardware. Apple. But Apple’s hardware ecosystem is somewhat closed. For each AI assistant to work, it needs hardware, so we see Amazon pushing Echo gadgets, Google pushing Pixel gadgets, and Microsoft flailing away with Surface PCs that don’t sell to well.
The only company that has the hardware component nailed down is Apple. AI needs hardware, so it may be that Apple is behind the Assistant and Alexa AI curve, the company is way ahead in hardware that can utilize AI.
Everybody seems to be betting on AI as a future platform for hardware.