Every decade or so, a new era of computing comes along that shapes everything we do. Much of the 90s was about client-server and Windows PCs. By the aughts, the Web had taken over and every advertisement carried a URL. Then came the iPhone, and we’re in the midst of a decade defined by people tapping myopically into tiny screens.
So what comes next, when mobile gives way to something else? Mark Zuckerberg thinks it’s VR. There’s likely to be a lot of that, but there’s a more foundational technology that makes VR possible and permeates other areas besides.
“I do think in the long run we will evolve in computing from a mobile-first to an AI-first world,” said Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, answering an analyst’s question during parent company Alphabet’s quarterly earnings call Thursday.
He’s not predicting that mobile will go away, of course, but that the breakthroughs of tomorrow will come via smarter uses of data rather than clever uses of mobile devices like those that brought us Uber and Instagram.
Forms of artificial intelligence are already being used to sort photographs, fight spam and steer self-driving cars. The latest trend is in bots, which use AI services on the back end to complete tasks automatically, like ordering flowers or booking a hotel.
Google believes it has a lead in AI and the related field of machine learning, which Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt has already pegged as key to Google’s future.