Dulitha Wijewantha 🔮

Applications that behave like Humans

One thing I believe will happen in the future is that applications will start behaving more like personas and less like applications. Right now if you consider any technology product, you’d use it as a tool. A tool to get some action done. But with the advent of new AI technologies, we’d actually be able to build products that will mimic personalities. If you take your life you’d probably need few tools/ services to get by from the very early ages. First, your life starts with parents and then with nannies taking care of you. After nannies, there will be teachers who’d help you learn subjects in school and then you’d get into university where you’d have professors hounding you to submit papers.

But then something different happens. You are put into the adult world where you’d have to do things for yourself. You need to know a doctor, you need to know a lawyer, you need to know a real estate agent etc. These people help you in a variety of ways. They give you advice and gives you tools regarding their subjects.

Doctors and Lawyers

What if, instead of you directly going to your doctor, you’d have a personal AI-powered doctor right with you where ever you go? This doctor would know from birth all the problems and all check-ups and everything to do with your body. Let’s say you call this doctor, Clair. You’d ask Clair when you are having an eye twitch. You’ll ask Clair to schedule a doctors appointment. You’ll ask Clair about your medical routines.

Now take a lawyer. Let’s call him Lee. You ask Lee for anything that has to do with the law. For example, you get a parking ticket, you ask Lee to go overturn that. If you get a house eviction notice, you ask Lee for advice. If you have a complex legal document that requires analysis, you ask Lee and Lee will give you contextualized information about the legal document. Lee will also remind you of court dates, that you have to attend, or jury duty.

Personal Assistants

If you personify products, you get a real service out of them in a much more natural way. I see this move right now in the market with bots and personal assistants. First, let’s analyze the personals assistants.  Right now, all the giants have a personal assistant:- Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, Facebook M.

A personal assistant is like having your own secretary. The secretary knows lightly of things to do but it won’t know how to exactly get things done. It will call upon assistants to do certain activities. If you apply this analogy to the real world, it breaks apart. Most of the time, secretaries are there for companies (or sometimes for people who are super busy). In the real world, what you’d mostly do is – reach out to your lawyer friend for advice. Let’s call him Roy. If Roy can help you across with your minor legal issue, he will do it pro-bono. But if he can’t help you since it’s not his specialty, he will give you details of another lawyer who is specialized on the subject.

This is where the personal assistant analogy fails. When the devices you interact with technology becomes obsolete, with VR, smartwatches and other forms of computing become more ubiquitous, you’d want personas that go with your across devices.

Current Implementations

There are several startups working on this particular notion of the idea across multiple verticals. Below is a small list of things I found interesting

  1. Replika.AI – Making a personified friend
  2. oDoc – Making a personified Doctor (they are still in the works for this feature)
  3. PennyApp – A personal Finance coach
  4. Alakazam – A Growth Assistant for Businesses

Current implementations have not even touched the full-blown power of this idea of having applications delivered as people. Over the next 5 years time, I believe we’d be able to see the shift happening in consumers where they will start preferring systems with personalities. I believe new set of unicorn companies will rise up to this wave of consumer demand.


Dulitha Wijewantha

I am a Product guy based in Colombo building next generation of products. Previously, I worked with Enterprise Middleware for 4 years.

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