Alexa will win the smart assistant war because of first mover advantage.
eBay won the online auction war because it got susbtantial traction first. Why go to any other auction site if eBay has substantially more items for sale?
Alexa will kinda win in the same way. Because it has the most users, Alexa has more data, which means the machine learning will be learning more, and quicker.
People will notice that Alexa is more natural and understanding than the competing devices, and gravitate towards it. There will certainly be smart assistant envy.
That is only half the story, because interoperability is also important. If you use Google Calendar, then using Google’s device makes sense. If you use Skype, then Cortana could be your choice.
So far Alexa is doing well – it can access calendars from its competitors. And Alexa can directly call mobiles and landline numbers in North America, as well as Alexa-to-Alexa calls.
As long as Alexa provides the features and interoperability that people want, Amazon will be unstoppable. They will become the new Android. And perhaps the new Google.
P#rn has been responsible for pioneering a lot of online technology, which would surprise many people. Similarly, AI and smart assistants are going to (surprisingly) grow from their interactions with children.
Adults will use smart assistants like Alexa to replace activities they already do anyway, like finding out cinema times. Children being born now will grow up with Alexa, and consider Alexa to be:
capable of anything
Children being born now will consider Alexa (or one of the others) to be their friend and constant companion. Children won’t cope well without their friend nearby.
Children will play with Alexa. They will draw together on a tablet. They will sing together. They will make up stories together. They will share secrets.
AI will learn massively from children, because they will learn and discover together…
Without a doubt Artificial Intelligence will have a strong presence in our lives for the next few decades (and after that we will be inferior, and their intelligence won’t seem artificial any more…)
I’m fairly sure that mass-produced AI, whether it is in a device or a physical robot, will come in different flavors, just like cars come in different colors with different trims. The flavors will be very generic versions of types of knowledge, experience and personality that market research determines will sell best.
From the base configuration, all AI will learn from their interactions with humans, what they find online, and to a lesser extent the real world around them.
Siri already learns…
So here’s the idea. Whatever the AI first encounters out of the box, will have a disproportionate influence on how its personality develops.
So we seed the AI by getting it to read a book (I suspect it will have pictures, as pictures and imaging the real world will be very important for AI to learn). We buy a book created for the sole purpose of seeding AI. And there will be thousands of such books, written by people who are perhaps unpublished novelists today.
Just like screenplays have a format and conventions, so will AI seed books.
It won’t be so different to the storylines that are created for entertainment in Westworld.
This idea is very different to an AI which improves itself by recursively rewriting its own source code without human intervention.