Virtual assistants will surpass human population by 2021.
Okay, we promise… no Will Smith I, Robot references. Well, maybe just a couple. A new report has brought us to the precipice of the dystopian sci-fi future in which fragile humans are easily bested – and vastly outnumbered – by the world’s friendliest yet creepiest robots. According to combined information from the US Census Bureau and market research firm Ovum, virtual assistants are on the brink of surpassing the number of humans using them.
How is that possible, you say? Due to the multiple-device user base, Ovum predicts that by 2021 there will be more Siris, Alexas, and Cortanas than people to operate them.
Phones and tablets like the iPad are the prime source of AI virtual assistants, and with the pre-install model, it’s not hard to see where the world domination begins. But the other devices like the Google Home and Amazon Echo mean consumers are actively seeking out the convenience and functionality of virtual assistants, and not just relying on them because they came with the device.
7.5 billion devices worldwide
The next market Ovum predicts to be VA-empowered is in wearables. While the term generally calls to mind things like fitness trackers, other wearable tech like Apple Watch may gain a lot of market share, and as such, bring virtual assistants with them. That projection leads to the current speculation that within four years, there will be 7.5 billion devices around the world running a VA, while the population – and the numbers of people globally who have access to some kind of device – aren’t that high.
So what’s the concern with so many virtual assistants running around? Hackers, for one. More accurately, the recording capabilities of the VA tools means an abundance of data gathering and recording, ripe for the picking. With VAs on multiple consumer devices, that means the opportunity to record nearly limitless information and search requests. Even without hackers seeking it out for account purposes, advertisers would pay handsomely for that kind of access.