The biggest hardware and software arrival since the iPad in 2010 has been Amazon's Echo voice-controlled intelligent speaker, powered by its Alexa software assistant. But just because you're not seeing amazing new consumer tech products on Amazon, in the app stores, or at the Apple Store or Best Buy, that doesn't mean the tech revolution is stuck or stopped. They are: Artificial intelligence / machine learning, augmented reality, virtual reality, robotics and drones, smart homes, self-driving cars, and digital health / wearables. Google has changed its entire corporate mission to be "AI first" and, with Google Home and Google Assistant, to perform tasks via voice commands and eventually hold real, unstructured conversations.
Researchers from Princeton University received mass media attention when they recently predicted the demise of Facebook. Data scientists at Facebook soon hit back with their own'study:' "In keeping with the scientific principle (used by Princeton) 'correlation equals causation,' our research unequivocally demonstrated that Princeton may be in danger of disappearing entirely." Is it surprising that the original Princeton study found its way onto the front pages of newspapers and magazines across the world? Probably not – the fact is statistical results with a causal interpretation have a stronger effect on our thinking than non-causal information. What the data scientists at Princeton relied upon in presenting their paper was our individual human inability to think statistically.
The new second generation Echo Show is bigger with a better display, but is size enough to keep Amazon ahead of stiff competition from Google? Since the original Echo Show launched last year the software has been refined, but the experience is broadly the same. The Show is a voice-first Alexa speaker, with touch interactivity as an additional input rather than the core experience. If you never wanted to touch the screen beyond the initial set-up,you wouldn't have to. When you do go to touch it, swipes and taps work as you might expect from a modern smartphone.
It was probably the HAL 9000 from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, that introduced the concept of AIs to the general public. But that was almost 40 years ago, and examining the more recent times, we have to look no further than in our own pockets to find the AIs that paved the way for the current hype: smartphones' digital assistants. Sure, there has been things like Cleverbot around earlier, but nothing has been as widely spread as these digital assistants. The main difference between a chatbot and a digital assistant is that former responds (be default) only to written queries, and the latter is capable to understand (at least to some extend) more natural, spoken queries. Things like voice activated searches and speech recognition softwares have been around for quite some time, but these digital assistants take the concept a step further by engaging in dialogue, performing tasks such as booking flights or setting up location based reminders, and they can even tell you a joke if you ask one.
The news that Christina Grimmie -- the 22-year-old singer who, as a New Jersey teen, made a name for herself on YouTube before broadening her fame in 2014 on Season 6 of "The Voice" – was shot and killed Friday while signing autographs for fans after a concert in Orlando, Fla., is tragic. But for fans of "The Voice" who watched Grimmie show off, during her time on the show, not only her impressive vocal chops and stage presence, but also her musical creativity, willingness to experiment and upbeat resilience, the loss must be heartbreaking. Those who watched Grimmie turn four chairs during her blind audition and then stick around to finish third on the show, behind only sweet, shy, country-singing runner-up Jake Worthington (of Team Blake Shelton) and silky-soulful winner Josh Kaufman (of Team Usher), knew she was an unusual talent. Grimmie's coach, Adam Levine, believed in her so fiercely that, at one point, he promised the audience she would end up winning the show. Then, when she didn't, he announced that he planned to sign her to his own label.