Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse Five and J.K.Rowling’s series of Harry Potter novels describe the time travel paradox. Traveling through time changes the future from the point in time where the traveler arrived. The personal assistant that will arrive at some time in the future will change humans from that point in time forward, but in a more impactful way than GPS.
Google and Facebook have recruited the best artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning talent in the world to build personal assistants in small increments.
The personal assistant’s intimate knowledge of users’ likes and dislikes and awareness of situational context could be like Samantha depicted in the movie Her, but without an emotional relationship so users will not fall in love with their assistants. Compared to Samantha, Google and Facebook’s progress is modest, though Google Now and its recently announced sibling Google Home promise a future with a conversational personal assistant that knows the user. When exactly Samantha will arrive is not predictable because researchers have not yet completed all the work to create her.
Likewise, Facebook’s progress in interpreting images and text comments proves that machines can understand the context of a scene and conversations in the comments to a post or dialog with a Messenger Bot. Add camera subsystems, such as Google’s Project Tango, and a few other research projects, such as Qualcomm’s 3D object detection, and machines will have human-like 3D perception.
Google and Facebook have the data about us to teach a personal assistant with machine learning to be contextually relevant to our daily lives.