When R2D2 and TARS Show Up For Work – My New Company, Troops
This post originally appeared on Forbes.com.
I’ve been thinking about R2D2 a lot lately and it’s not because I’m a nerd or a big Star Wars fans. Although on some days I’m probably both. I’ve also been thinking about the other sci-fi movie robots out there like TARS from Interstellar, Samantha from HER, or even Arnold from The Terminator.
I think Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have been thinking a lot about this, too.
Once upon a time artificially intelligent machines, talking robots and self driving cars were just some figments of imagination but now we have Siri, Amazon Echo and Tesla’s driverless cars.
And these are just the pre-school version of what is yet to come. You can be sure these technology juggernauts like Apple, Facebook, Tesla and Google are cooking up some next level, world changing solutions. I mean, Google just created an entire holding company called Alphabet to do precisely that.
Our society has finally crossed a threshold with technology, and there is a shift underway.
Invisible apps, zero UI, artificial intelligence, messaging-as-software. These are all phrases I’ve heard over the past few months that are meant to convey that shift which is: We’re at a moment in time where software can adapt to humans whereas before humans were the ones adapting to software.
Microsoft calls it “Productivity Future Vision.” I call it, “just getting stuff done.”
The software, computing power, hardware, interoperability of platforms, and APIs are all there for this shift to finally happen and for highly complex systems to be built and deployed at scale.
I saw a tweet the other day that said API’s were the unsung hero of technology. There is certainly some truth to that. They allow us to move beyond stand alone solutions to a world where solutions can work with other another.
And to date, those stand alone solutions, at least in terms of software have mostly been about drop down menus, check boxes, field and forms, and some mediocre UI and UX. It’s been about making screens look pretty. Making buttons click so that you can turn to yet another pretty page.
But the next 10 years will be about machine learning, artificial intelligence, natural language processing and technology that is contextually aware to human beings and their preferences. It will happen through interfaces that are intuitive and commonplace to human behavior.
Ben Evans says messaging is the software and not the other way around.
I’m personally interested to see how this plays out in an enterprise environment and so I recently started a company with some amazing people to put these thoughts to paper and ideas to bits and code.
Someone once told me that we spend a third of our lives sleeping, a third working and a third watching TV. And it seems like an incredible time to try to make that “working third” a little better for everyone and to do so with entirely new engineering and software development concepts.
And the new company?
It’s called Troops.