Strapped in and ready

Today was a momentous day. Alexa, Amazon’s artificial intelligence brain in the cloud, finally recognized my 3-year-old daughter’s voice commands.

(I guess that means she’s all grown up now…)

Today, I also ordered a couple more of the brand new $49 Echo Dots — the mini version of the wireless speakers that serve as the interface between Alexa and humans like my daughter. The plan is to sprinkle them around my house. In short, I plan to blanket our home inside Alexa’s hearing range.

This is clearly what Amazon is banking on — the tech is getting really accessible, almost disposable. I mean, you can even buy Dots in 6-packs and 12-packs, though I’m not planning to go quite that far.

But, if we’re all rocketing towards a future where Artificial Intelligence (AI) virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri and Cortana are our primary means of interfacing with “the cloud,” and conversational user interfaces are the next big frontier in terms of user experience design, I plan to sit right in the co-pilot seat next to them.

Clearly, we’re still in the early stages. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, speaking at the annual Code Conference a few weeks ago, put it this way: “It’s the first inning. It might even be the first guys up at bat. We’re on the edge of the golden age of AI.”

A golden age of AI. I dig it. I, for one, welcome our new computer overlords.

So, in that spirit, in addition to Alexa, I’ve invited a few others into my world too. I’d encourage you to do the same.

Amy is from x.ai. She now handles all my scheduling. If I need to find a time to meet with someone, Amy handles all the back and forth for me in email. I just CC her on any meeting request and, with access to my calendar, she takes over from there. The dialogue is handled instantaneously, using proper English so recipients never know they’re communicating with an algorithm.

Likewise, Charlie also has access to my calendar and delivers me, via notification, a quick briefing on every meeting participant before a call. He/She/It (?) mines hundreds of online sources to create a detailed picture of everyone. Social networks, news sites, blogs — nothing is off the record. Nobody is an unknown anymore.

Finally, I just activated Clarke. Clarke dials into every meeting and takes notes for me.  It’s a pretty simple job. But it’s a lifesaver. Now, I can focus on just listening during a call, knowing that everything is being recorded for posterity.

Like I said though, early days.

This is all pretty low-hanging fruit. But because it’s easily accessible, it means we can all start to wrap our minds around where this stuff is all going.

But, really, what gets me most excited is what’s ahead for real estate.

I’m sure there’s all kinds of cool stuff being cooked up right now in the labs at Redfin, Zillow, Boomtown and elsewhere. Clearly, I’m not the only one whose head is in this space right now.

We’re on the cusp of an exciting new era, where computers will be listening and doing more and more for us.

Rather than fear the inevitable future, I say strap in and enjoy the ride with me and my daughter.

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