Who will we talk to in 2019?

While there is understandable concern that the art of communication is dying, the growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) with chatbots and voicebots may well be the first step to rescuing the art.

This becomes important, because all predictions for the effect of jobs through the growth of AI indicate that there will be significant job losses, but that the jobs that require human interaction will survive.

Jobs such as nurses and psychologists will still require the individual human interaction, but jobs such as call centre operatives or even some tasks undertaken by doctors will become the responsibility of AI.

Already it is often difficult to know whether you are talking to an artificial voice or a human, except perhaps by the speed of response and the refusal to lose its temper. Equally, AI has already proven to be more accurate in detecting some cancers than are doctors.

AI that is capable of analysing high volumes of historical health data can further improve diagnosis. This allows for identify potential causes of disease and to provide early warning or diagnosis.

Therefore, it may be deemed a concern for future generations when we witness young people locked into their phones in what were once social situations. If this was to be a permanent transition than that may well be the case.

However, the paradox of the advance of AI and other technologies is that the advance may be just what is needed to free up our time for more social interaction.

Already the attraction of games and the multitude of applications on smart devices is beginning to wane. It is estimated that most people only use five applications on their smart phone regardless of how many there are on the device.

At the same time the rise of chatbots and voicebots is encouraging users to desert the keyboard for the much faster voice input. Already smartphones can be voice activated for a number of tasks and things like calendars and various lists are common uses as are reading emails and documents.

Turning on music or playing a video is easily voice activated and 2019 will see many more possible uses. Whether using the device to book hairdressing appointments, theatre tickets or hospital appointments, detailed web browsing for locations, emails or telephone numbers will disappear.

Already it is believed that 30% of web browsing is voice activated, and so we should see a major increase in such applications in 2019.

If one adds in various other technologies such as biometric and voice recognition along with robotics and voicebots, then the opportunities for more and more applications that do not require staring at a phone or pressing on keys becomes limitless.

This in turn will see a return to clear, unambiguous speech that will, in turn, lead to quicker and more accurate interactions. The novelty of having a coloured screen to grip like a comfort blanket will disappear and perhaps the return to human interaction will begin to happen.

2019 may not be the year that all of this happens, but it should be the year when progress towards training people to speak to each other again will make significant progress.

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