Don't Make Me Talk

31 October 2020

John Siracusa in episode 19 of his pre-eminent podcast Hypercritical:

What were the earliest mass-market PC interfaces like?…they were like conversations…you’d tell it what to do, it gives information back to you…That was the basic paradigm until the Macintosh…What it gave you was not a conversation, but a thing…you could poke the thing and see how it reacts…it worked like a physical object

I really liked the comparison of early command-prompt user interfaces to conversations. It struck me that today’s AI assistants (Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri) are all based around having conversations. If these systems ever approached anything close to human intelligence and common-sense, perhaps having a conversation is the best way to interact with AI. But I wonder if there is a better interface to interact with AI? What’s the next leap from conversational AI? Perhaps Augmented Reality is the answer — artificial intelligence dispersed in our lived reality, giving us glancable information and the illusion of a physical object we can interact with. I wonder if this is why Apple is so bullish on AR as well.

Or maybe the best way to interact with artificial intelligence is the same way we interact with other people — using conversations.