Welcome to the post-post-mobile frontier.

Mark Challinor’s recent blog post, as well as a few of my prior postings, have mentioned the importance and impact Artificial Intelligence (most commonly encountered as virtual assistants) will have on the future (see also: Mary Meeker).

With Google’s recent announcements, it’s clear we’ve moved from a post-mobile world to one that’s AI-first.

The mobile-first world is becoming AI-first.
The mobile-first world is becoming AI-first.

Google’s October hardware releases and announcements — including Google Home — “are important vessels for the technology [that Google] believes is the key to the entire future of tech: Artificial Intelligence,” Walt Mossberg said.

Mossberg continues: “The company’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, called AI ‘a seminal moment in computing’ on a par with the personal computer, the Web, and the smartphone going mainstream, at roughly 10-year intervals. ‘It’s clear to me,’ he said, ‘that we are moving from a mobile-first to an AI-first world.’”

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, in the April Google founder’s letter, summed up their sense of AI-first: “Looking to the future, the next big step will be for the very concept of the ‘device’ to fade away. Over time, the computer itself — whatever its form factor — will be an intelligent assistant helping you through your day. We will move from mobile-first to an AI-first world.”

Fortune reports: “Venture capitalists, who didn’t even know what deep learning was five years ago, today are wary of start-ups that don’t have it. … People will soon demand [says Frank Chen, a partner at the Andreessen Horowitz], ‘Where’s your natural-language processing version? How do I talk to your app? Because I don’t want to have to click through menus.’”

AI has been making inroads in the media for years now — sports stories and stock stories are examples. And other data-centric stories are being written and localised by AI instead of humans.

Algorithms and natural language processing are being used to sift through mountains of documents for patterns and data analysis to aid investigative reporting. Other tools are used to monitor social media for patterns and sentiment. That’s just on the production side of the news.

On the consumer side, we see the rise of “chat bots” that can answer rudimentary queries with summaries and links to content. How long before news media’s vast historical archives are data sources for research bots and summaries for both reporters and readers? Or, before we have bots dissecting complex legislation for human-understandable read-out?

Many of these services will start as reporting aids that can be then leveraged for consumer use as a service. The media likely will start to see their mission as not just reporting the news, but also providing the tools and services for consumers to self-serve.

And it all started with a phone.