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Smart Industry 1/2018

Smart Industry 1/2018 - The IoT Business Magazine - powered by Avnet Silica

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Smart Communications Voice Interface | Chatbots Robot 2020 Join the conversation Robots have hands and feet, arms and legs, a torso of some sort or another, and a kind of head sitting on top, maybe with bulging, fly-like faceted eyes, or camera lenses that stare back at its human master. If that’s what you think robots of the future will look like, think again. Chances are robots in 2020 and beyond will look more like a can of sardines. ■ By Tim Cole 54

In recent years we have seen a host of machines that perform household tasks like vacuuming the floor, carrying out the trash, or mixing a cocktail in the evening. As always, appearances are often deceptive and in reality robots will probably simply talk to us, answer our questions, remind us of appointments, and just generally be there when we want them. Yes, they will perform tasks for us, but these will be more in the nature of knowledge work: finding flights and booking a ticket, contacting a favorite restaurant to see if there is a table free, scheduling a doctor’s appointment, or whistling up a cab. We need to rethink our notions of what a robot really is. The preconceived idea of a humanoid mechanical servant that will constantly be at our beck and call harks back to the days of butlers and housemaids (or, worse, to human slavery). That is not what robots are destined to become, says Nicholas Carr, author of numerous bestsellers such as Utopia Is Creepy: And Other Provocations, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, and Does IT Matter? Carr has proven uncannily accurate at predicting important future trends source: hanson robotics | photo ©: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC@FallonTonight in technology and in a recent opinion piece for The New York Times he mused about the future role, and appearance, of robots, writing that “a robot invasion of our homes is underway, but the machines – so-called smart speakers like Amazon Echo, Google Home and the forthcoming Apple HomePod – look nothing like what we expected. Small, squat and stationary, they resemble vases or cat food tins more than they do people.” Marketed as smart speakers, these devices are powered by chatbots. A star is born Robot Sophia makes a guest appearance and meets Jimmy Fallon on NBC's Tonight Show Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa have already become household names in America, but acceptance is widening almost daily. In China, Xiaoice has become a digital friend to millions since being introduced by Microsoft in 2014. One reason the tech giants are fixating on chatbots is that there is a widespread feeling today’s technological limitations will soon be overcome. Anyone who has interacted with a digital assistant knows how frustrating it can be. Chatbots are often overwhelmed the minute a conversation goes beyond very basic requests. Smart speakers are oracles of the countertop. They may not be able to speak for the gods but they can deliver reports on news, traffic, and weather Nicholas Carr author of numerous bestsellers Conversation creates huge amounts of data Recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI), especially in self-learning algorithms, have opened the door to much more sophisticated chatbots. Microsoft, for instance, designed its Cortana chatbot from the beginning to get smarter with every use, both by learning about the world and the people with whom it interacts, finetuning itself to anticipate the wishes of individual consumers. Every use of these AI-powered conversational interfaces is building huge amounts of data which, over time, will make these systems even more useful. Another reason for the sudden hype wave about chatbots is down to the customers themselves and their changing habits. In 2015 the number of active users each month on 55