As the 2015 Comic-Con in San Diego, CA draws to a close, the SnapMunk team thought it would be fun to launch a new series to explore topics that border on the sci-fi tech found in the Marvel Universe and wonder… what if?
Our first topic will consider the JARVIS system that Tony Stark develops as his artificial intelligence personal assistant. What if we had this tech today? Is it even possible? Believe it or not, bits and pieces of AI programs are all around us. From Apple’s Siri to Google’s Google Now to Microsoft’s Cortana, each of the major players in the tech market have already rolled out their own versions of a JARVIS precursor. Research labs around the globe have also created more extreme versions of AI systems, like IBM’s Watson, but it seems like we are all still quite a ways from having something as slick as JARVIS in our homes anytime soon.
JARVIS, as portrayed on the big screen, is explained to have begun as a natural language interface and evolved into a more comprehensive AI system. This is actually consistent with most of our research in this field. In other words, scientists working on artificial intelligence often begin with a framework for interpreting and assimilating the way human beings communicate with one another. The notion being that any AI system worth its salt would need to be capable of understanding spoken or written information given directly by a human being. This is where we get terms like machine-learning, which alludes to the method most experts feel will be required to develop sophisticated AI systems. In other words, after the initial algorithm for setting up the AI framework is programmed, the system would be taught everything else through interactions with humans in a process call machine-learning.
Even amateur hackers have taken big steps toward building their own home automation systems based on the JARVIS concept. A few of the best attempts were recently showcased in an article by Hackaday.io. The enthusiasm behind these projects is truly intoxicating! So what would happen if someone finally succeeded? Home automation is one of the more obvious payoffs to the tech, allowing people to fine tune their environments to their liking and tweak them on a whim. The system would happily jump in to adjust temperatures, lighting and ventilation whenever you like. Beyond that, it would probably start anticipating patterns and pre-emptively fulfilling your needs without being asked at all. For example, coffee heads would probably wake up to a fresh cup of their favorite java and updates on all of their items scheduled for that day. Thoughtful reminders of special occasions would make the birthday notice on Facebook seem crude by comparison as your AI would go even further by picking out presents and book restaurant reservations based on its understanding of your preferences.
The real payoff to having a JARVIS system would probably come in the form of enhanced professional productivity. Having a super-intelligent AI to troubleshoot problems and create solutions with will liberate people from countless hours of wasted time. We currently use the internet to research solutions and track down important information, but it takes forever to sift through search results to find exactly what we need. Our ever-helpful AI would be able to crunch through thousands of results in the blink of an eye, shortcutting us to the right information instantaneously. In fact, as the system gets smarter with time, it could eventually take on more complex tasks that we currently need people to do. Eventually, the question would arise whether we would have any work to do at all if we have such sophisticated assistants at our disposal to begin with. Could we just send our JARVIS’ to the office to do our work for us? It wouldn’t seem rational to tie any compensation to the work being done at that point, so the emergence of the tech could force a massive evolution in our economic system.
So what would happen if we actually had a system like Tony Stark’s JARVIS? Seems like this one thing would literally be a global game changer across the entire spectrum of society and civilization. Not only that, but it would have a British accent, and that’s even cooler!