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At this year’s Google I/O, Amit Singhal and Johanna Wright took the stage to present their vision for the future of search. They envisioned a not-too-distant future where the search box fades away and search becomes more “conversational” and “anticipatory.”

The next wave of behavior-changing computing is a technology called anticipatory computing — systems that learn to predict what you need, even before you ask said NPR.

Google Now, which is available on tablets and mobile devices, is an early form of this. You can ask it a question like, “Where is the White House?” and get a spoken-word answer. Then, Google Now recognizes any follow-up questions, like “How far is it from here?” as a human would — the system realizes you’re still asking about the White House, even without you mentioning the search term again. It’s an example of how anticipatory computing is moving the way we interact with devices from tapping or typing to predictive voice control.

“That’s what is the next wave of computing, in my opinion,” says venture capitalist Om Malik, who founded the technology news site, Gigaom.

“As we become more digital, as we use more things in the digital realm, we just need time to manage all that. And it is not feasible with the current manual processes. So the machines will learn our behavior, how we do certain things, and start anticipating our needs,” Malik says.

Listen on NPR

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