You have to hand it to Gene Roddenberry. If you don’t remember the name, he was the producer, screenwriter, and creator of the “Star Trek” series, which continues to resonate a half century after the show first debuted on network television back in the mid-’60s. Today, they call them “showrunners,” but in his day Roddenberry didn’t just come up with an idea for a TV show – he created a living, breathing franchise.
Roddenberry was a visionary. Many of the concepts, philosophies, and dilemmas the show tackled in deep space resonated right here on earth. They still do.
His U.S.S. Enterprise had a more diverse crew than many companies have today. And Kirk, Spock, and their able team of space explorers dealt with conflicts involving all sorts of social issues that resonated with what has happening in America at that time – as well as today. He found a way to touch on issues that were often touchy or even taboo back then, and give them an intergalactic, futuristic treatement that put many things into perspective.
The fact the series is still alive, well, popular, and profitable more than half a century later speaks to the universality of Roddenberry’s storytelling. But it also reflects a vision of technology’s future that was innovative and brilliant, whether it was the advanced nature of Dr. McCoy’s Sick Bay or the brilliance of Mr. Scott’s teleportation room. As we continue to sit in traffic snarls, grounded airplanes, and other annoying crowd scenes, who wouldn’t want to intone “Beam me up, Scotty!”), and get whisked away to a more satisfying destination.
So, when I ran across this short video conversation between Kirk, Spock, and “computer,” it stopped me cold:
Obviously, James T. Kirk was more than a bit uncomfortable with a computer simulating a real woman. Rewind to the 21st century, and hundreds of companies are raising their AI games by creating computers that sound and act more like…people.
In fact, the Google Assistant is being engineered to do just that. As smart speakers go, Google Home may be distantly trailing the Amazon Echo line, but they are far along the Artificial Intelligence path. You can listen to a powerful demo here where their computer makes a hair appointment and a restaurant reservation without being recognized as a machine, complete with all the “uh’s” and pauses we’re accustomed to hearing in normal conversations over the phone.
If you think of this technology as merely cylindrical devices that sit on your kitchen island or rec room table and tell you the weather, you’re missing the larger impact voice will have in our lives. Last week, we blogged about Lennar, the nation’s largest home builder, embedding Alexa into every new abode they’re building.
And perhaps the bigger news this week came from computer manufacturer, Acer. MediaPost reported they’re now the first company to make laptops that speak “Alexa.”
The now-familiar voice-technology will be embedded into a number of their Windows note books, eventually spreading across their entire line of PCs.
Like the Lennar deal, Acer has partnered with Amazon, and will be marketing these new machines with the ubiquitous female computer voice.
…it won’t be long when you’ll be to command your computer to do what you like:
“Alexa, open Microsoft Word.”
“Alexa, open Google and search for restaurants near me.”
“Alexa, what are my appointments for today?”
“Alexa, get me an appointment with Jay for haircut at 3pm Friday.”
“Alexa, play some Classic Rock from the ’60s and ’70s.”
Without the aid of a mouse or a keyboard, you’ll be able to converse with your computer, asking “her” whatever you like.
Just like Captain Kirk.
They say 2018 is the Year of the Woman.
It may, in fact, it may be the Year of the Woman Computer.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,000 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.