Tech Guide

The man behind Android says A.I. is the next major operating system

Todd Haselton | CNBC
Key Points
  • Andy Rubin thinks AI is the next big operating system
  • He's worth listening to, as he's one of the creators of Android, the world's dominant smartphone platform
  • Rubin is building new AI-focused products.

Andy Rubin, best known for leading Android, thinks artificial intelligence is the next major operating system.

Rubin made the comments during a press event for the launch of his new Android smartphone at the headquarters of Playground, his hybrid venture capital firm and start-up incubator in Palo Alto, California.

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Rubin said new gadgets, whether they exist inside smart cars or new cellphones, are going to usher us into the new age of AI.

"Operating systems happen in cycles, and they cycle about every 12 years," Rubin explained. "MS DOS was one of the first operating systems for personal computers in the late '70s. Then Macintosh and Windows in the early '80s. Then in the '90s there was the internet. After that there was mobile. And each one gets bigger and bigger and bigger and feeds after each other. So what is the next major operating system? What is the next platform? And how do we position ourselves so we're planting the seeds today?"

Todd Haselton | CNBC

He believes those seeds are his company's new products, including a smartphone that's available to order now.

Following that launch, Essential will sell an AI product for the smart home, Essential Home. We got a sneak peek this week.

Todd Haselton | CNBC

The heart of Home is Essential's operating system, Ambient OS. Rubin didn't share much about the new software, but he did share his thoughts about how AI will become the next big operating system.

"I think it's AI. It's a slightly different AI than we see today. Today we see pattern matching and vision tricks and automation for self-driving cars and assistants like Siri or Google Assistant, but I think there's a thing after that that will coalesce into something that's more of an operating platform."

Rubin knows his own hardware company can't create the master AI platform alone, which is why his incubator Playground is so important.

"We're investing in hardware companies because we think they're essential in training AI," Rubin said. "One of our invested companies is called Light House. They make a camera for your home like a Dropcam except it uses AI to analyze everything that's happening in your house. You can ask if the kids went to school on time and it can answer."

Essential Home will allow you to play music through popular services, check the weather and more, all through a circular touchscreen.

But unlike other systems, like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, his plan is to create an OS that works with everything else. It's an ambitious goal with serious technical challenges, but Rubin knows enough about operating systems that he shouldn't be ignored.

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Playground has invested in 25 companies, Rubin said, and he has a staff of 60 engineers helping each of those firms.