THE BLOG

The iButler Is the Thin End of the Wedge

08/04/2014 13:50 BST | Updated 08/06/2014 10:59 BST

With news of Microsoft's Cortana personal assistant breaking, it looks like Siri is also about to get a serious makeover. Apple recently filed a patent that will make it more like personal assistant that tracks you around the house. An iButler, if you will.

Using your Apple device as the hub, it will interact with all sorts of connected objects in your home, reminding you to take medicine, prompting you to baste the chicken, allowing you to turn your heating up or down.

The internet of things is something that has been talked about for a while and with this we are slowly seeing it become a reality. The internet of things is essentially the method whereby connected objects interact, sometimes independently, to carry out certain tasks. It's meant to make everyday life a little bit easier. So, if you're on your way home and you want to pre-heat your oven for dinner, then you can do so via connected devices communicating with each other. "Siri, turn the oven to gas mark 4". Though you may not want to say those exact words on a packed commuter train!

Yet right at the core of this is artificial intelligence that can autonomously take a decision. The current version of Siri has a limited amount of AI built into it, but this is really just the tip of the iceberg. In years to come, we will see AI come on leaps and bounds as the internet of things becomes a more accepted and used methodology.

Personal assistants like the one Apple has created a patent for will learn from the instructions they are given and begin to prompt people. If on you regularly cook certain meals, then it will suggest new recipes based on the ingredients you tend to use. You won't need to tell it to do something whilst you are on the train. It will know you are on the train and take the decision for you.

As with most consumer technology, the business world is just a little further ahead. Here, we are already seeing companies utilise AI with their staff. In jobs that require huge amount of logistics on a daily basis, there's real scope for AI to play a bigger role.

Take an engineer, for example. Every day they need to ensure they have the right tools and parts, routes worked out, contact details for each job, options for local suppliers should they need them, access to additional expertise. And these are considerations they need to make before even starting on the job. Wouldn't it be better if all of these considerations were handled by an automated system which could take in all the information, make proactive recommendations , and then set the engineer up to go and do their job.

With a little bit of AI, businesses could take away the laborious, complicated, decisions which sometimes fall foul to human error. Instead, you have an electronic system which crunches the data, comes up with the best answer, and isn't vulnerable to misreading a number on a page or word in an email.

When people think of AI, they think of robots taking over or megalomaniac computer systems hell bent on world domination. The truth, the reality, is that AI is simply a way of harnessing huge amounts of contextual data and computing power to allow staff to concentrate on the jobs that machines can't - the really important, valuable jobs they are hired for.