Picture the scene. It’s a snowy Christmas evening in 2047 and after a day’s celebrations, all is quiet. You’ve been able to absent yourself from the awkward office party by simply sending your pre-programmed hologram in your place, the auto-tune on the kids’ Nativity play worked perfectly, and Santa’s reindeers are enjoying yet another year off, ever since he took delivery of his driverless sleigh. With a click of a button, the virtual decorations are taken down, and even the volume control for the post-prandial snoozing of an elderly relative has worked a treat, too. Okay, so that may be a far-fetched festive fantasy for the time being, but even in 2017, we can still scrap the typical trimmings of a traditional Xmas to make way for one full of artificial intelligence, intuitive gift-lists, and app-controlled decorations. In fact, everything, from present-buying to post-Xmas dieting can be made easier by advances in technology, designed to take the stress out of the season. But with increased investment in technology, and machine learning shaping the way in which we all live, what could an AI Christmas really look like…?
Distance Is No Object
Festive advertising favourite John Lewis brought Buster the Boxer to our screens last year, but continued with a virtual reality drive which saw Buster go indoors to stores, giving customers a curated, personal experience. And it’s this personalisation that makes Virtual Reality (VR) such a boom area. With people choosing to live further apart, the possibility of celebrating a shared Christmas through VR headsets, such as Oculus Rift, is becoming big business. Prioritising experience over location, there will be nothing to stop people checking in to a virtual shared meeting place to swap festive greetings, eradicating the difficulties of distance in a flash.
Dodos For Dinner
Sci-fi fantasies often involve the resurrection of extinct creatures, a science known as ‘de-extinction,’ and though in its infancy, this is slowly becoming fact with research gearing up to recreate long-gone animals, such as the dodo and the woolly mammoth. By using fragments of available DNA, and a similar species of animal still alive in which to gestate the creature, turkey could soon be usurped by passenger pigeon to go with the parsnips and roast potatoes.
A descendant of the book token, digital presents, such as Amazon’s gift certificates, allow for giving without the gift-wrapping, and are becoming increasingly commonplace. But while downloads remain popular, the desire to unwrap a present is a stubborn thing to shift, so look to 3D printing coming your way soon to print up tiny representations of the actual present itself, meaning there’ll always be something to find underneath the tree…
….and speaking of which, legitimate environmental concerns relating to climate change and deforestation means that Christmas can keep its green credentials by shifting towards holographic trees and decorations instead. While fake trees could remain a popular – and cheap – choice, holographic trees wouldn’t require dragging down from the loft once a year, and there’d be no hoovering up the needles, whether fake or real, either. In the meantime, invest in some smartphone controlled lights, such as Twinkly, and personalise your decorations using the associated app
Sing goodnight to Silent Night with carols generated by the magic of artificial intelligence. In 2016, Scientists at the University of Toronto fed 100 hours of pop songs into a ‘recurrent neural network,’ system designed to replicate the brain’s learning by building connections between the stimuli. They then prompted it to create a song inspired by the image of a Christmas tree, thus creating the world’s first AI carol.
Okay, so maybe we should stick to the hymn sheet on this one…