What Life Will Be Like When the Computers Disappear

by Edward C. Baig, USA Today

What happens when the computers around you all but disappear?

Tiny sensors built into walls, household products, what you’re wearing, and perhaps your own body will make computers invisible to the eye, but responsive to a gesture, voice, and perhaps your movement as you walk into a room.

It is still very early, but the era of ambient computing is slowly taking shape, whether in the form of the voice-driven smart speaker on your kitchen countertop, or via the IoT (Internet of Things) devices and appliances that are designed to blend into the background.

The expected transition to an ambient computing era driven by advances in artificial intelligence (AI), speech recognition, natural language processing, machine learning, and cloud computing should make computers all but invisible in the future.

Some of the regular features of our daily life may get computer-driven — without the tap of a finger. Imagine this: Your autonomous car pulls into your driveway and the garage door opens, the front door unlocks, and the lights inside the house flip on. The temperature is already set to your liking, and the ideal music for the moment starts to play, tuned to your very mood. You’re reminded of a conference call you have to jump on an hour later, and are told it’s time to take your medicine.

Invisible sensors, feeding your movements and routines into cloud-computing servers where artificial intelligence systems absorb and refine the directions they give to the smart devices, will help make such scenarios happen.

Experts envision innovations making certain devices operable without requiring manual intervention. They think such functions will be facilitated by invisible sensors that feed users’ movements and routines into cloud-computing servers where AI systems interpret and refine the instructions they provide to smart devices.

Examples of such advancements include efforts by Facebook to let people “hear” with their skin, while futurist Ray Kurzweil expects by the 2030s there will be health-regulating “devices that are as powerful as your cellphones today that are the size of blood cells.” Experts say it is critical that developers address the technology’s privacy and security issues, while also solving the requirement for always-on devices, which is impeding the rollout of mobile ambient computing.  Read the article.

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