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A day in the life of the average person in 2038, when artificial intelligence will grant everyone services currently reserved for the rich

Richard Feloni
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Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images


  • Microsoft president Brad Smith and EVP of AI and research Harry Shum have a new book about artificial intelligence called "The Future Computed."
  • In it, they outline Microsoft's predictions and policy proposals around AI development.
  • Shum told Business Insider that in 20 years, AI-operated personal digital assistants will be so integrated into our lives that they will be like "alter egos."
  • They proposed a typical day in 2038 with one of these assistants.


The digital assistant you got for Christmas may endlessly entertain you with its ability to read you a recipe as you cook in the kitchen, but ultimately it feels like a novelty.

This form of artificial intelligence is simply in its infancy, however, and if Microsoft's leadership team is correct, in 20 years it will be an inextricable part of your life.

Harry Shum, EVP of AI and research, told Business Insider that it's difficult to predict how AI will transform the world in the coming decades, "But one thing we firmly believe in is that the ultimate form of AI is a digital assistant."

Shum said that within Microsoft Research, employees refer to this future version of a personal digital assistant as an "alter ego, really a second self."

We spoke with Shum and Microsoft president Brad Smith about their new book "The Future Computed," in which they outline Microsoft's thoughts on the future of AI, and why tech companies will need to work with both governments and academia to reach a consensus on the ethical use of AI in our daily lives.

Twenty years from now, Microsoft and its competitors will be offering personal digital assistants that will offer the services of a full-time employee usually reserved for the rich and famous.

For an idea of what to expect, we adapted a hypothetical day in the year 2038 from the book: 

  • Your digital assistant goes through your calendar and talks to your other electronic devices to plan your day while you sleep.
  • With an eye on your sleep cycles, it wakes you at a time in which you will feel most refreshed, within a window of time you've previously approved.
  • As you get ready, your assistant reads you the news, reports, and social media activity it determined to be of most interest to you, based upon all it's learned from your schedules and communications.
  • It updates you on the weather, upcoming meetings, and people you will see that day, and suggests the best time to leave the house based on traffic.
  • Your assistant tells you that it has already ordered flowers for your sister's birthday (it knows that lilies are her favorite based on your previous purchases) and scheduled them for delivery that day.
  • It also tells you that it's booked a restaurant both you and your sister like at a time that's convenient for both of you.
  • Your first meeting for the day will be with an international team and held remotely. Before you leave for the office, you put on a pair of mixed reality glasses and greet your colleagues, who appear before you in a virtual boardroom. You all put in an earpiece, so that each side's language is automatically translated for the other, without lag.
  • After the meeting, your assistant shows it has prepared a summary of the discussion, and has determined a task list based on next steps.
  • Acting on your assistant's advice on traffic patterns, you get into your driverless vehicle. As it takes you to your office, you fine tune a presentation you're giving later on the vehicle's digital hub.
  • While you work on your presentation, your assistant offers supplementary information about the topic you're focused on.
  • As you work throughout the day, your assistant automatically responds to routine emails and forwards emails to relevant colleagues based on guidelines you previously set .
  • Your assistant continuously monitors your vitals. When your driverless vehicle drops you off at home, you check in with your doctor via a virtual visit before dinner. Your mobile device measures your blood pressure and oxygen levels and sends the data to your doctor.
  • Drawing upon the latest results compared to a terabyte of data concerning your health record, your doctor determines you should take a medication that will help lower your blood pressure, tailored to your physiology.
  • You leave for dinner, while your prescription is filled. It's delivered by drone that night.
  • Your assistant monitors your health as you take the medication, and if a concern arises, it asks your permission to schedule a doctor's visit.
  • As the days go by and you realize you need to get a break on your calendar, you tell your assistant to book a week-long vacation. Because it already knows so much about you, it will quickly propose a plan for you to approve or adjust.

"In 2038," Shum and Smith wrote, "digital devices will help us do more with one of our most precious commodities: time."

You can download the book "The Future Computed" for free at Microsoft's website. Print copies will also be available at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting for 2018 in Davos.

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SEE ALSO: Microsoft execs say in 20 years we'll all have digital assistants that will be our alter egos — and we need to set ground rules while we still can