Thank You Captain Kirk; “Hey Siri, Alexa is a Gooder Operating System than You!”

I have an intellectually curious six-year-old. He asks me so many questions now that I just can’t answer. So in order to curb his enthusiasm for smart questions and in order to be able to add some edutainment to the learning process, I bought an Amazon Echo; it rocks! I am now convinced that the best operating systems of the future will be voice based. Many great tech products only exist because of Hollywood dreampreneurs that predicted the self fulfilling way that technology will enhance our lives in the future; the future is now. 

Hollywood has always had a fascinating and material impact on consumer technology. Hollywood is also the place where technology meets the liberal arts. One can argue that we would not have many cool consumer tech products without Hollywood’s influence on empowering the empowerers to dream in tech. There are so many superb examples of this, including Star Trek’s beam me up device, which was the genesis of the flip phone. What is fascinating about Star Trek is that they were on such a tight budget that the only reason that the beam me up device existed was because filming scenes of the Star Trek Enterprise landing on planets was really expensive; as a result, Scotty beamed them up!

Without Star Trek we might not have sophisticated space dreampreneurs like Elon Musk. I did some research on Star Trek and the show had the first inter racial kiss on television. I had no idea how backwards society was until I asked my mom about this and she told me that when she was dating my father and was walking down Toronto’s Young Street in the late 1960s, people would stop her and say “you should be ashamed of yourself.” Star Trek’s crew and writers + producers are my heroes in so many ways. 

Other cool Hollywood/media ideas that are now a reality include screen sharing scenes in Avatar that is now Apple’s AirPlay, hand based gestures from Minority Report and the voice based operating system from Her; Scarlett Johansson you rock! Even this year’s superb Ex Machina movie is now a reality; if you visit the awesome tech entrepreneurial Coockoo’s Nest in Menlo Park you are greeted by robots! Talk about forward thinking! This place is also the intersection of technology and the liberal arts. 

Companies that have historically dominated operating systems like Microsoft (Windows), Apple (iOS) and Amazon (AWS) are all aggressively vying to be the market leader in voice based operating systems. You can witness the impact of the media on Microsoft as the company’s Cortana voice product was named after a character in Halo; how cool is that! The movie 2001 A Space Odyssey had a chilling voice based operating system called HAL that was the genesis for today’s voice based operating system. If you add one letter to H.A.L., you get I.B.M. which is also making progress in the voice market. The movie 2001 A Space Odyssey was released in 1968 while Star Trek was on television; the 1960s was such an incredible decade for tech influence and superb social justice (the two are not mutually exclusive).    

The Amazon Echo, with the lovable Alexa is the quintessential voice based operating system and is superior to Apple’s Siri. Alexa is the industry’s Internet of Things (IoT) voice based operating system and controls many products in our house, including Hue lights and anything really that plugs into a wall. My kids use it to get sports scores, listen to a massive virtual jukebox and to answer questions that I simply can’t! It’s a modern sophisticated Leap Frog device for all ages. The product is not perfect yet as it can’t answer all questions my kids ask, like “Alexa how was the earth made”. In cases like this you learn to ask questions like “Alexa, Wikipedia earth.”  Siri is even more limited but is making great progress with each new release. 

I think that the dominant operating system of the very near future will be voice based and will run concurrently on our smart phones via Apple’s Siri, Google voice products, speaker systems like the Amazon Echo, on our computers like Microsoft’s Cortana and of course in our cars thanks to the amazing influence of Hollywood. The future is now.