Will AI replace UI?

This week Techcrunch waxes on the use of AI to replace UI to allow us to avoid having to navigate through messy screens, menus and buttons and simply use SMS messaging, voice command, gestures or direct brain interfaces to control our digital lives.

The killer app for AI is the personal assistant. We all dream of a day where we can have a conversation with our computer and it not only understands what we are saying, but also understands what we MEAN, and even anticipates things we don’t yet know we want.



Having tried out various EEG “brain interface” devices over the years I think we are still along way off from being able to consciously send specific commands. Right now the systems can basically detect if you are generally relaxed, but nothing like “order me a pizza”.  Perhaps with proper coaching we could learn to express our desires and directions with our brain waves, but our minds are already so hazy and confused at every moment it may only be usable my Himalayan monks.

For UI designers this could signal the disruption of their industry:

As a designer, this is an unsettling trend to internalize. In a world where computers can see, listen, talk, understand and reply to you, what is the purpose of a user interface? Why bother designing an app to manage your bank account when you could just talk to it directly? Beyond human-interface interaction, we are entering the world of brain-computer interface. In this world, digital-telepathy coupled with AI and other means of input could allow us to communicate directly with computers without the need for a screen.


The the truly next generation of human computer interfaces will be inter-oral tongue input/output devices. Our tongues are already directly connected to our language areas of the brain and it is one of the most expressive “output” devices built into our human bodies. Tongue “keyboards” could be discreetly hidden inside of our mouths and allow us to control and communicate silently and without requiring us to use our eyes or hands.


It may sound crazy now, but in a few years when you see people silently walking down the street while with their mouths shut and twitching slightly, you’ll know you heard it here first. 😉

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