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Lara AI - a focussed exploration of artificial intelligence

After watching the film Her it really hit me that, the real breakthrough for Artificial Intelligence is the day that an AI assistant starts working with and supporting a real life assistant in getting important things done.

In real life, I jokingly call my office manager Lara my boss. She holds everything together for me... but one of the frustrations of our work together is involving her in my activities to the degree that she/ Lara can automatically take over things that don't need my input, but at the same time not demeaning her by getting her to do things that are convenient for me but are boring and repetitive for her.

For example, having Lara listen in on a phone call so that she can take notes and list follow up items is a good use of her time, but having her call people and get them on the line for me smacks of the old Mad Men secretary days.

So what does this have to do with AI and the project I have named Lara AI? Well, what if I ask Lara to spend part of her week doing everything for me? Making calls and listening in, reading my emails for me and summarising them, making replies... all the things that you wish Apples SIRI really did!

But then, what if you had an Artificial Intelligence algorithm listen and watching everything we both did?

At first it would just listen to Lara and I interact. Then it could start to look for web sites we mention so that they could be shown to Lara in real time. Then it could recognise telephone numbers to call and start making Lara's life easier.

Thus started work on the project I am calling Lara AI in honour of my boss :-) / assistant and in recognition of the work we will be doing over the next year as we make this project work...

Here is how I see it working:

  • Initially I will just have an ear piece like the character in "Her".
  • When I tap/ activate it, Lara (the real Lara) comes online and interacts with me.
  • If I'm not using the earpiece Lara can notify me of important stuff... she can ask, "Can I interrupt you?" "Sure..." "Tony just sent an important email about the funding closing, can I read it to you?" "Sure."
  • I would only interact with my iPhone to look at photos or read specific texts, but most of my interaction would be through Lara.
The Lara AI would start to learn:
  • When I summon Lara, Lara AI would answer for her in Lara's voice.
  • Lara AI would get Lara's attention to take over but in the mean time, Lara AI would be transcribing my request for information and trying to do whatever I ask while REAL Lara comes online.
  • Gradually over time Lara AI could handle more and more tasks... calling people, making sure they are on the line before I speak to them, reading emails and texts to me. Summarising news and collecting information for me.
What's really interesting about all this is that it becomes apparent in this scenario that the days of the iPhone are numbered. The personal device we know as a phone becomes an interface to Lara where she shows me photos and graphics from time to time but most else comes to me through her...

Exciting stuff...

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