Google Now is software that predicts when and how to connect you with information that is relevant to your situation. It currently exists on Chromebook and in their smartphone OS Android version 4, Ice Cream Sandwich. To build this software gradually they have started with 10 “cards” which are basically predictive functions. A card is a collection of logical tasks that use your data and data around you to perform relevant notifications.
For example, it uses your calendar data and tells you when you have an appointment. Let’s be clear, most calendar software has the ability to set reminders. What’s happening here is that Google is making assumptions about your appointment: you want to be reminded 45 minutes before a lunch meeting. Google made a guess that for most people, 45 minutes was the right amount of time to let you know before a lunch meeting.
I’m sure everything can be customized to your liking but the power of those assumptions is easy to overlook. Google Now launched with 10 cards that do these predictions for various categories and you can bet they are working hard to expand. I expect they will eventually open up development for others to create cards or to integrate those features into their app development process.
This type of software is the future. Up until now, we have been telling computers what to do: input/output. We tell it to do so something and it does. Google is building numerous assumptions into the software so that it can “make decisions” without your input. Not even Apple’s Siri does this. Siri is just a interface that uses your voice instead of physical input. People have talked about how Siri could be the start of artificial intelligence but it doesn’t even come close. To be clear I think Siri does make some broad assumptions but they seem to be generalized, not specific to you (they don’t use your data). I think the most important part of AI is making assumptions. At it’s core, this is what IBM’s Watson computer does (you may recall Watson won at Jeopardy against the two all-time best, human, contestants).
As Google adds more assumptions to their software it will become increasingly more useful. These are features that you want, you just don’t know it yet. It will never be true AI but it will emulate it and make people much more dependent on the technology. However, it will add lots of value to the lives of the people using it.
I should mention that I have never used Siri or Google Now. I’m speaking from what I’ve read about both services. If you understand these systems and have some input please let me know!
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