Smartware are computing systems that require little active user input, integrate the digital and physical worlds, and continually learn on their own. Now, in this, the final edition of our column on smartware, we’ll consider how the powerful capabilities of smartware will enable new interactions and user experiences that, over time, will become seamlessly integrated into our digital lives. Read More
Do you remember the first time you saw magic? Something that stretched your imagination beyond what you thought possible? For Dirk, this happened in a most unlikely place: a Sears store in a sleepy mid-Western shopping mall, circa 1977, at a demonstration of the Home Pong console, which was, at the time, the latest technological wonder. A small crowd had gathered in awe around a chunky tube TV, and children and adults alike turned the control wheels with delight, bouncing a pixelated ball back and forth. Although, as a child, Dirk had experienced a variety of traditional magic shows involving cards, rings, and pigeons, it was that Pong demonstration that stayed with him. In that moment, the television transformed into a machine with which he could interact, and he began a newfound relationship with the screen.
The interactivity that so enthralled Dirk that day is, in fact, core to computing. Ever since consumers adopted the earliest personal computers, we’ve input commands to yield desired outputs. Today, however, interactivity is changing, becoming far less direct. Using artificial intelligence (AI), services such as Amazon and Netflix have mapped a detailed identity graph for each of their customers. Machine learning enables these services to recommend products that customers are likely to buy and new shows that viewers are likely to enjoy. Read More
Today, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are coming of age at the same time as a cluster of advances in the sciences, especially neuroscience and genomics, and other technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT); additive fabrication, or 3D printing; and virtual reality (VR). Together, these technologies promise to create a radical inflection point at the same scale as personal computers in the 1970s, the Internet in the 1990s, and mobile computing in the 2000s. We call these collective technologies smartware.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is currently having a moment. In fact, the field has had many moments since its inception in 1956, with flurries of media excitement tempered only by the sober reality of what is actually possible. We have made massive strides in machine learning—the approach to AI that focuses on writing software that can independently learn and develop long after its human programmers have finished their coding—which is transforming personal computing as we know it. Read More