Languages Magazine

Why Intelligent Assistants Will Become Pervasive

By Expectlabs @ExpectLabs

Smart personal assistants will soon be found in every nook and cranny, from cars to wearables. There are a few exciting developments happening that are bringing this vision to life. Listen to our founder outline the three technology trends that are contributing to the ubiquity of intelligent assistants.


Hi, I’m Tim Tuttle. I’m the CEO of Expect Labs. At our company, we are building technology to make it easy to build these intelligent assistants that can understand the things that you say and find the right information for you. We’re at a really remarkable time in the evolution of this technology and within just a few years, most of us are going to be using these intelligent assistants routinely everywhere. They’ll be in every application that we use. They’ll be the primary interface for many applications that we use to find information. They’re going to be in our home; we’ll be able to interact with our devices by voice. They’ll be in our office; many of the applications that we use at work everyday will have these intelligent assistants. When I say this, a lot of people are skeptical, because scientists have been talking about these AI assistants for a long time and they haven’t really emerged. And on top of that, some people have used some of the early versions of intelligent assistants, maybe an early version of Siri or another intelligent assistant, and they haven’t necessarily worked very well. Well, we think all that’s going to change.

We think it’s going to change because of a few basic reasons that finally make this possible for the first time. The first reason is that the advances that have happened in machine learning techniques over the past few years have seen dramatic improvements in the accuracy of these systems. Specifically, you look at something like speech recognition where the accuracy of speech recognition systems stayed roughly constant for nearly a decade. In recent years, the accuracy has improved dramatically due to techniques like deep learning and the availability of large data sets. And this is happening across many of these large unstructured problems that scientists have been trying to solve for awhile. So that’s very exciting. Many of these core AI problems will be solved.

The second reason that we think intelligent assistants are going to become pervasive is because we now live in a world where we use so many devices everyday, and these devices have great sensors that allow us to capture these contextual signals that become very informative about what types of information they want at specific times. And so we have wearables, we have mobile phones that are with us. We are in rooms that have all these connected devices. And these devices can see and hear us and measure other data signals. That becomes very powerful to be able to have a system be intelligent about what you want. So, that’s never happened before. We’ve never lived in this world with so many devices.

And then the third reason that it’s going to happen is because for many types of devices, it’s absolutely essential. It really is the only way that you can interact with devices. And I’m talking about things like wearables, or Google Glass, or your connected home, your thermostat, where there is no keyboard, there is no large touchscreen. So, if you want to be able to interact with these devices, it has to be through voice and very coarse-grained touch gestures and so it’ll be critical for making those devices useful.

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