Dec 02 2023

AI is about to completely change how you use computers

Category: AIdisc7 @ 2:33 pm

I still love software as much today as I did when Paul Allen and I started Microsoft. But—even though it has improved a lot in the decades since then—in many ways, software is still pretty dumb.

To do any task on a computer, you have to tell your device which app to use. You can use Microsoft Word and Google Docs to draft a business proposal, but they can’t help you send an email, share a selfie, analyze data, schedule a party, or buy movie tickets. And even the best sites have an incomplete understanding of your work, personal life, interests, and relationships and a limited ability to use this information to do things for you. That’s the kind of thing that is only possible today with another human being, like a close friend or personal assistant.

In the next five years, this will change completely. You won’t have to use different apps for different tasks. You’ll simply tell your device, in everyday language, what you want to do. And depending on how much information you choose to share with it, the software will be able to respond personally because it will have a rich understanding of your life. In the near future, anyone who’s online will be able to have a personal assistant powered by artificial intelligence that’s far beyond today’s technology.

This type of software—something that responds to natural language and can accomplish many different tasks based on its knowledge of the user—is called an agent. I’ve been thinking about agents for nearly 30 years and wrote about them in my 1995 book The Road Ahead, but they’ve only recently become practical because of advances in AI.

Agents are not only going to change how everyone interacts with computers. They’re also going to upend the software industry, bringing about the biggest revolution in computing since we went from typing commands to tapping on icons.

A personal assistant for everyone

Some critics have pointed out that software companies have offered this kind of thing before, and users didn’t exactly embrace them. (People still joke about Clippy, the digital assistant that we included in Microsoft Office and later dropped.) Why will people use agents?

The answer is that they’ll be dramatically better. You’ll be able to have nuanced conversations with them. They will be much more personalized, and they won’t be limited to relatively simple tasks like writing a letter. Clippy has as much in common with agents as a rotary phone has with a mobile device.

An agent will be able to help you with all your activities if you want it to. With permission to follow your online interactions and real-world locations, it will develop a powerful understanding of the people, places, and activities you engage in. It will get your personal and work relationships, hobbies, preferences, and schedule. You’ll choose how and when it steps in to help with something or ask you to make a decision.

“Clippy was a bot, not an agent.”

To see the dramatic change that agents will bring, let’s compare them to the AI tools available today. Most of these are bots. They’re limited to one app and generally only step in when you write a particular word or ask for help. Because they don’t remember how you use them from one time to the next, they don’t get better or learn any of your preferences. Clippy was a bot, not an agent.

Agents are smarter. They’re proactive—capable of making suggestions before you ask for them. They accomplish tasks across applications. They improve over time because they remember your activities and recognize intent and patterns in your behavior. Based on this information, they offer to provide what they think you need, although you will always make the final decisions.

Imagine that you want to plan a trip. A travel bot will identify hotels that fit your budget. An agent will know what time of year you’ll be traveling and, based on its knowledge about whether you always try a new destination or like to return to the same place repeatedly, it will be able to suggest locations. When asked, it will recommend things to do based on your interests and propensity for adventure, and it will book reservations at the types of restaurants you would enjoy. If you want this kind of deeply personalized planning today, you need to pay a travel agent and spend time telling them what you want.

The most exciting impact of AI agents is the way they will democratize services that today are too expensive for most people. They’ll have an especially big influence in four areas: health care, education, productivity, and entertainment and shopping.

Health care

Today, AI’s main role in healthcare is to help with administrative tasks. AbridgeNuance DAX, and Nabla Copilot, for example, can capture audio during an appointment and then write up notes for the doctor to review.

The real shift will come when agents can help patients do basic triage, get advice about how to deal with health problems, and decide whether they need to seek treatment. These agents will also help healthcare workers make decisions and be more productive. (Already, apps like Glass Health can analyze a patient summary and suggest diagnoses for the doctor to consider.) Helping patients and healthcare workers will be especially beneficial for people in poor countries, where many never get to see a doctor at all.

These clinician-agents will be slower than others to roll out because getting things right is a matter of life and death. People will need to see evidence that health agents are beneficial overall, even though they won’t be perfect and will make mistakes. Of course, humans make mistakes too, and having no access to medical care is also a problem.

“Half of all U.S. military veterans who need mental health care don’t get it.”

Mental health care is another example of a service that agents will make available to virtually everyone. Today, weekly therapy sessions seem like a luxury. But there is a lot of unmet need, and many people who could benefit from therapy don’t have access to it. For example, RAND found that half of all U.S. military veterans who need mental health care don’t get it.

AI agents that are well trained in mental health will make therapy much more affordable and easier to get. Wysa and Youper are two of the early chatbots here. But agents will go much deeper. If you choose to share enough information with a mental health agent, it will understand your life history and your relationships. It’ll be available when you need it, and it will never get impatient. It could even, with your permission, monitor your physical responses to therapy through your smart watch—like if your heart starts to race when you’re talking about a problem with your boss—and suggest when you should see a human therapist.

AI is about to completely change how you use computers

AI Made Simple: A Beginner’s Guide to Generative Intelligence

InfoSec tools | InfoSec services | InfoSec books | Follow our blog | DISC llc is listed on The vCISO Directory

Tags: ChatGPT

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment. Login now.