The Ever-Expanding Power Of Technology

Voice recognition technologies like Siri, the intelligent assistant that enables users to ask questions with simple voice commands, are helpful in guiding users to, say, the nearest sushi restaurant. But can technology actually help people make decisions? That’s coming sooner than we might think, Mark Rolston, a keynoter at the ASI Power Summit, told the conference on Monday morning. Rolston, the founder of argodesign, said that as technology progresses, more and more people will rely on computers as “decision support tools” that will act like personal concierges and help guide every decision they make.

As an example, he said, Siri’s creators are now working on a stealth program at Viv Labs which promises to have nearly limitless decision-making capabilities. For instance, Rolston says, one might give the voice command, “On my way to my brother’s house, I have to pick up some cheap wine that goes well with lasagna.”

In time, he said, the platform will be able to take a user’s personal preferences and a near-infinite web of connections to answer almost any question and perform almost any function. Equally as interesting were Rolston’s predictions about normal household objects, which he believes may someday soon be transformed into “smart dumb objects.”

Consider, for example, a light switch which could be operated by turning a Coke bottle in a clockwise position, a cutting board which could suddenly be activated to give step-by-step instructions to cook your next pasta dish, or a bar table which on command, lights up to transform into a virtual air hockey game.

“Product design and technology are going to expand so that they go anywhere with us,” he said. “They will enhance what it means to be human.”