The Future Landscape connecting Smart Machines, Universal User Interface (i.e. voice – spoken words) and Business Mantra
- In Sanskrit, the word “mantra” always signifies some spoken words, i.e. sounds with convoluted, complex and encrypted meanings. Something resembling genetic code. It uses matter (vibrations in air in general) but in itself a mantra is “de-materialized matter”. A mantra is a universal interface ranging from calling Olympian gods to that of activating a weapon.
- The future landscape, I believe will resemble a situation where voice / spoken words will be the Universal User Interface. From keyboard, mouse, stylus, smart-screen, fingers, eyes and hand to completely TOUCHLESS.
- Spoken words, VOICE or mantra – whatever you call it will use SYNTAX, SEMANTICS, CONTEXT and SENTIMENT on a framework called – HUMAN LANGUAGE
- One’s first language (by birth or by acquisition) will always feel like a “biological organ” for a person and being an organ rather automation, it will have all the attributes humans have.
- Future devices and the ecosystem in general needs to be TRAINED on the huge number of languages spoken by people all over the globe.
LOCALIZATION – 1.0
The historical evolution of machines took a specific route but it could have taken other equally probable alternate routes. Hence, we learnt “computer languages” first to have basic interaction with world’s first computers. The evolution of this phase reached its zenith with the evolution of HLLs or Higher Level Languages.
Localization – 2.0
The parallel stream was computation through multiple natural languages. Then came the wave of localization of content – translation in major languages. Devices came with multi-language manuals and training kits opening a new industry vertical in the function of language translation.
Localization – 3.0
This is the phase we are now where new devices directly process “spoken words” in few languages some basic instructions. It is the equivalent of fighting with parsers and compilers in the era of Localization 1.0 whenever the syntax, semantics and context become subtle and inter-wined. Handling Sentiment is in its infancy.
Localization – 4.0
This phase will rule few decades. In this phase, devices will be able to handle all natural languages – it will be able to process syntax, semantics, context and sentiment together. It will be also the phase when devices will resemble more like a “human entity” and the value-add will be on the emotive, (functional yet transcending functionality) artistic (functional but connecting to some hidden and intractable aspect of our being) and aesthetic (recall of beauty and our attendant sense of mortality).
These devices will interface pre-dominantly with spoken words – either spoken within the range of speech (sitting on a self driven car) or any distance away (directing a drone).
What will be the most-valued USER EXPERIENCE in this environment?
Of this new world, we have no historical precedent and human nature is our only guide, even if not an infallible one. Based on what we understand by human nature, i.e. our own, we can identify some attributes of this ecosystem:
- The anthro-morphic principle: Human beings will project its own reflection into things created by him. Example, can you deny that once or twice, you have talked with an elevator or a computer in half-praying, half-playful mood as if the device understands your emotion.
- The Beauty Principle: Human beings respond to beauty and will continue to do so although definitions will vary and there will be change in fashion but the poet was right – “a thing of beauty is a joy forever” and only this principle and none else can explain why people are ready to pay so much premium for an I-phone although functionally it is same like other smart-phones. Another example – people visit Acropolis, Greece to see a non-functional building like Parthenon but who will pay to see most of our highly functional office buildings?
- The Intimacy Principle: This principle is founded on our liking for being closer with non-judgmental and “you will err but forgiven in advance” environment. This is at the root of some of our greatest attachments and friendships. This is the psychological and sexual glue that binds relationships that endure. This is the reason why rather than becoming angry, we find comfortable when devices suggest the corrected string we have typed in a hurry.
- The Morality Principle: Starting from name written on a grave-stone to that of emperors putting obelisk, the under-lying principle is the subterranean but perpetual presence of the inevitable human mortality. Until every human is immortal, this principle will be the fountain-head of all other principles. The Beauty Principle is the complement of this principle. A thing of beauty is a joy forever only because we know that none are here (or there) forever.
With Voice as Universal Interface, a whole business landscape will emerge and that means there will be new business models. The value concentration will be in the niches. It is not yet clear where will be those niches but we can have some idea about the nature of those niches and the skill-sets supporting them: