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Smarter than the average app

One of Gartner’s predictions for 2016 is that by 2020, smart agents “will facilitate 40 percent of mobile interactions, and the post-app era will begin to dominate.”

In its annual list of looking ahead, Gartner says that smart agent technologies, which it characterizes as virtual personal assistants (VPAs) or other agents, “will monitor user content and behavior in conjunction with cloud-hosted neural networks to build and maintain data models from which the technology will draw inferences about people, content and contexts.”

In other words, the apps being written over the next few years are going to get smarter about dealing with data. That’s undoubtedly the result of underlying algorithms growing increasingly sophisticated. That’s certainly one reason why the job market for people with analytics expertise is exploding.

Gartner goes on to say that VPAs will be able predict users’ needs, become trusted, and eventually act autonomously on the user’s behalf.

That’s powerful stuff. Whether we’re ready for this from a societal perspective certainly is fodder for profound discussion. Have at it.

Aside from the impact on civilization, I’m interested in what this means for the development community. This concept goes well beyond traditional coding we’ve all done — transaction processing, database queries, report generation, etc. It’s also very different from the coding that drives applications, such as data communications, packet processing, validation, authentication, load balancing, failover switching, and dozens of others.

As a software developer, do you see smart agents advancing to a degree that they become predictive and able to act on a user’s behalf? Share your opinions, we’d like to hear from you.

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