How long will it be before our digital intelligent assistants begin talking to each other and leave us out of their conversations? I ask because already Microsoft and Amazon are getting together to make their assistants talk with each other.
Will Apple allow Siri to ask Microsoft’s Cortana a question? Will Siri be able to tell Amazon’s Alexa to perform a specific tasks, ostensibly one that Siri cannot, but one that Alexa can? If so, will we even hear the conversations?
Dumb And Dumber
To be fair about my analysis of digital personal intelligent assistants talking to each other, I will admit I don’t care much for Siri, I’ve tried Alexa, used Cortan, dabbled in Google Assistant, and chuckled at Samsung’s anemic Bixby. They’re all horrible so what would we gain if they could talk to each other?
Sure, Siri, Alexa, Cortana, et al can answer some questions, perform a few tricks here and there– sufficiently different from each that Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google can tout their intelligent assistant as better than the other, but come one; none of these talking headless voices can do much.
Siri, call my mom.
I could do that on a non-smartphone back in the last century.
Siri, open Safari.
The Mac had such capability years ago and nobody ever used it except to show it could be done.
Siri, what’s the weather?
Ho hum, bah humbug, right? For whatever reason, Amazon’s head honcho, Jeff Bezos, a Steve Jobs wannabe who won’t tell how many of his failed technology products Amazon has sold through the years, and Sataya Nadella, Microsoft’s chieftain, got together and said it was OK for Cortana and Alexa to communicate.
The key here is integration. Microsoft’s Cortana, for example, has much better integration into Office and Outlook than Alexa will ever obtain. But if they could talk to each other, then perhaps both would learn and users would be happier with their new overlords when they combine to take over planet earth.
Likewise, Amazon’s Echo devices have functionality not likely to be utilized by Cortana, but if Cortana could talk to Alexa, Microsoft’s customers would be happier with their Amazon purchases.
Anyway, that’s how I see all this working out between rivals that are not really rivaling each other all that much. Apple, on the other hand, rivals both Amazon and Microsoft so will Siri gain the ability to speak to Cortana or Alexa or even Assistant or Bixby?
After all, Apple prefers to chart its own course. Each of these assistants have their own book of tricks so being able to communicate between AI assistants means users could benefit by having ever more functions available by voice. The only issue I see here is how we communicate with a bunch of digital talking heads.
Siri is always on in my iPhone 7 Plus, but not on my Mac or iPad. To use Alexa or Cortana, I’m required to open their respective apps. Will Apple allow for an always on, always listening Alexa or Cortana or Assistant?
I don’t think so.
Frankly, I’m a bit concerned that Bezos and Nadella are getting together at all. Both are mostly devoid of head hair which strikes me as a telltale sign of a pending, albeit very slow, alien invasion. The New York Times ran a story seemingly applauding the partnership between Alexa and Cortana and displayed photos of the two executives.
Doesn’t Microsoft’s chief honcho on the left look as if he knows he knows more about the future of digital intelligent assistants than anyone else except Amazon’s Bezos on the right, who has a sinister smirk? They’re both mostly bald. You know, like creatures that would invade earth in the form of humans.
With all these talking assistants living in every device I fear for planet earth.
Siri, call 9-1-1. Siri? Siri?