MUMBAI - In the 2008 movie that launched the Avengers franchise, billionaire protagonist Tony Stark spends time making the Iron Man suit. However, he does not enlist any human help in doing this. Instead, he has a couple of robots with narrow artificial intelligence (AI), and one named Jarvis with cognitive, broad AI inside his computing systems. Jarvis is his assistant, friend, and co-innovator - essentially a genie in a tech bottle.
This idea of an artificially intelligent personal assistant - inside a robot or device - has been such a staple of science fiction films for two generations - from Star Wars to the Avengers series and from 2001: A Space Odyssey to Her - that it is surprising that the information technology (IT) industry has seemingly not yet realized its business potential.
Even Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant are popular despite their limited abilities, which suggests that people are practically screaming for an evolved AI assistant, one that can do most mundane, repetitive tasks. Usually, Silicon Valley is quick to catch on when it comes to spotting a need, building something to fill it, and then monetizing it. This is central to the growth strategies of the MAANG companies - Meta, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google - and others.
The issue is not that no progress has been made. Recent improvements in the Siri and Alexa have been decent but not nearly enough, and they continue to be mostly gimmicks. What has been missing is a sufficiently radical shift in thinking about them, which is strange because the hardware limitations for AI have been breached for a decade. Hence, so confident were we at The Yuan when surrounded by the hype of the metaverse over a year ago - I even made some predictions in a couple of articles.1,2 One was that the virtual reality craze that Meta is counting on will not pay off. The second is that the next huge business will be the creation of personal digital iThe content herein is subject to copyright by The Yuan. All rights reserved. The content of the services is owned or licensed to The Yuan. The copying or storing of any content for anything other than personal use is expressly prohibited without prior written permission from The Yuan, or the copyright holder identified in the copyright notice contained in the content.