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From Dick Tracy to artificial intelligence — how the future is fast becoming our reality
Sherry Young talks on her Apple Watch — something that as a young girl she saw in a Dick Tracy cartoon but never could have imagined it happening. - photo by Grit Young

My daughter Melissa came to visit the other day. She was thrilled because her daughter Caroline, who flew a few days before to Nepal, had just called her using FaceTime, a wonderful invention that allows people to look at each other on their phones as they talk. Melissa said it was a miracle that she, worried about her 19-year-old daughter, could not only talk with her, but could see her clearly all the way from Nepal.

Our son Tom and his wife, Stacy, have enjoyed the same technology since their daughter Sydney moved with her husband, Jake, to Hong Kong. As first-time grandparents, Tom and Stacy get to see their new grandson every day if they so wish.

Talking on the phone is fine. However, just as a picture is worth a thousand words, seeing people is even better than talking to them.

For Mother’s Day, my son Steve and his wife, Barb, sent me an Apple watch. What an invention! If you’re old enough you will remember the cartoon “Dick Tracy.” Tough talking crime fighter Tracy would often lift his wrist to his mouth and talk to someone on his watch to nab the bad guys.

Back in those days phones were hard-wired into a home — no such thing as satellites and cellphones and watches you could talk on. It was totally futuristic. Today it is a reality.

I recently noticed when emailing on Google that suggested words now appear by the cursor, and if I hit the tab key they stay in the email. Google is trying to do my thinking for me.

It made me wonder how this was happening, so of course I “Googled it.”

Apparently artificial intelligence will soon impact our lives in every area, and is already changing the world faster than we could ever have dreamed.

In "8 ways artificial intelligence is going to change the way you live, work and play in 2018" on, I found some concise predictions that are expected to happen.

The article begins by saying how in 2017 everyone from Elon Musk to Mark Zuckerberg was talking about AI. Now in the year 2018 it is becoming a reality.

They quote Microsoft Asia President Ralph Haupter, who states, “The idea that computers have some amount of 'intelligence' is not new. Pointing as far back as 1950, when computer pioneer Alan Turing asked whether machines can think. So it has taken nearly 70 years for the right combination of factors to come together to move AI from concept to an increasingly ubiquitous reality.”

The article gives eight ways AI is happening now and will impact our future:

1. Everybody will have a virtual assistant, and they're going to be pretty smart.

2. All your voice-based gadgets will work together (and may get confused).

3. Facial recognition will be the new credit card.

4. Your boss is going to start to talk about AI.

5. Artificial intelligence will generate media specific to your personal preferences.

6. Artificial intelligence will write news and market reports tailored specifically for you.

7. Your computer will become empathetic (we should start to see more human-like responses to our queries and requests).

8. Your doctor is going to use AI.

If you’re worried you’ll be replaced by a robot, just think of all the new jobs AI will create. The tricky part may be to stay ahead of the game by choosing the right occupation. From what I’ve read about AI, the wisest advice for planning ahead is to be trained to be a lifelong learner who can adapt and change.

For us older folks, grandchildren become a great resource to keep us abreast of change. Daily living takes adapting and learning to be able to do necessary life duties like even paying our bills online.

It made me wonder, now that Dick Tracy technology is a reality, just how much longer it will take for us to say, “Beam me up, Scotty” and off we’ll fly.

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