Siri: The Midpoint of Knowledge Industry

Mon, Oct 31, 2011


When Apple released the iPhone 4S on October 14th, 2011, it was not really the iPhone that they released, but Siri, its Artificial Intelligence assistant, capable of listening and talking, basically the next step in human computer interaction.  And when I say Siri, I do not just mean the software that resides on the iPhone, but the entire infrastructure, including cloud-based computing and all the web services that make Siri possible.

Yet, Siri is significant not so much for what it does but for what heralds, namely that we are now at the midpoint of the knowledge industry.  Let me clarify.  By midpoint I do not mean that from now on there will be less innovation or less money made in the knowledge industry.  What I am pointing to is that from now on jobs in the knowledge industry will be on the decline.  Why?  Because software such as Siri illustrates the automation that will increasingly be applied to knowledge work.

Taking a look at the source of research behind Siri is even more illuminating.  Reading between the lines you will find that Siri is basically a spinoff from the research conducted at SRI International‘s Artificial Intelligence Center (AIC).  A quick browse through the history and research areas of this center shows that their work touches key areas that will not only enable robotics but also transform the knowledge industry as a whole.

So what will be the outcome of all this?  Basically, such capabilities that Siri, cloud-based computing and the iPhone provide the foundation on which individuals can begin creating and disseminating meaning.  Up to this point the vast majority of work has consisted in figuring out how to make information more user friendly and accessible, but now that information access is becoming universal (at least for a large well-to-do section of the population), attention will turn to building the maps of meaning that allow us to navigate and make sense of the information.



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