One of the most promising emergent technologies is Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. Combine this with Digital Assistants (e.g. Siri, Google Now, Cortana etc.), the amplifying nature of the Internet, Virtual and Augmented Reality, and the opportunities become boundless.
Consider the number of interactions you have in a given day, how many are simply interactions with a service provider? Think about say, a check-up with your GP, call to an insurance agent, or parent-teacher consult. How much of “you” do you actually need for each of these meetings? Probably not as much as you expect.
Your GP certainly needs to see your physical telemetry, something that's easy enough with wearable technologies available today (blood sugar, BP, pulse, sleep, diet, weight & exercise patterns). But apart from that may simply question how things are at home, at work, with the family, and then prescribe medication or a course of action.
Imagine if you will that an AI avatar is programmed with enough of your personality to answer questions for the doctor. She can already access a comprehensive history of your medical health, ask questions about symptoms, and give the AI instructions. Later in the day (or immediately if necessary) your avatar can catch up with you to debrief on what you should be doing, and what medications to pick up (or print on your Bio3D printer)
Or you need to call the insurance company about a change in your home policy. Rather than waiting 40 rings to navigate an IVR through 3 departments to get to the right person, your avatar could call the insurance company. They will never get frustrated, annoyed, or impatient. As you they'll answer questions about your finances, new purchases, and cover you need. When you arrive home from work, your avatar simply informs you the insurance is done.
And then that call from your daughter's teacher. Teachers tend to work at really challenging hours for most people to arrange an interview. It's usually inconvenient for most to get from the workplace to the school at a time that is convenient for a teacher. (Disclaimer: Lucy, my wife is a teacher) But it is important. Arguably more important than work. Of course, your avatar knows the questions you'd ask about behaviour, effort and achievement. It is programmed with your concerns about peer relationships and bullying, and can answer any questions about what's happening on the home front. You can then have a non-emotional discussion about progress with the avatar that evening.
In fact we already do this, just not with technology. As a father of four girls, often Lucy and I would “divide and conquer” to get to all the teachers. But Lu is different to me. She's less concerned with a strategy for maths, I probably err to academics over emotional and social development. How good would it be not to have to divide the tasks up, and be assured that “you” are asking the questions you want answers to? And for the teacher that they can get a whole picture from both parents?
Let's take this a step further. How much of a teacher's personality and knowledge would you need to program into an Avatar to interact about a given subject? Again I argue not very much. And now you have this digital AI, you can scale this to provide extremely small ratios of teacher to students. And you could do it contextually. So with a general introduction to algebra maybe your best maths teacher AI interacts with 12 students, but with a thorny section on calculus, you could scale down to 1:1. And of course, you could repeat a lesson ad infinitum. Because this is an AI copy of the teacher, the student can ask different questions every time, or the same questions. The avatar remembers the interactions and can adjust expectations and activities accordingly.
Indeed with VR a university could offer courses with world leading professors, lecturers, and tutors to unlimited numbers of students, and times convenient to the students. Actually in VR and with Wearable Technology you can simulate physical skills as well. Are you holding the scalpel correctly? Is your fingering on the flute right? You'll be able to non-destructively practice skills, with expert coaching and feedback. This will absolutely accelerate and enhance learning.
With Augmented Reality, the avatar could appear with you in a physical location too. Imagine a dancer patiently showing you choreographed moves in the dance studio you're in, then giving you real time feed back as you dance. Then debriefing your “real” instructor on your progress. Teacher AI's able to go over homework with children, music teachers able to practice daily with students.
This world is not that far off at all. In fact when I did my Master Degree, over a decade ago, I studied the entire course online. But Powerpoint presentations, and forum chats for interaction, were a very crude way to deliver teaching. Being able to ask a complex question, with a multi-layered answer, at any time of day or night, certainly would've helped me understand encryption based on large prime numbers, and the ethics of Thorac-25.
Today Internet delivered audio and video lessons (e.g. Audible Great Courses, Udemy, Kahn Academy etc) are far more effective, but still lack intelligent interaction and feedback for practical skills.
In short, we'll be able to timeshift and location shift our interactions in the same way we do with TV programs today by recording on a DVR.
So if you could program yourself into an AI avatar, that constantly experiences the world as you do, and can intelligently interact with others, what interactions would you time shift?