It seems every futurist and his soon-to-be cybernetically enhanced cousin has an idea about when computers will become as smart as people, when they'll attain self-awareness, when they'll be able to generate a cogent opinion about Princess Kate's hairstyle, etc, etc.
When it comes to such high-end brain functions, experts say humans still hold all the key management positions. However, they point to a coming "singularity", a magical moment when sentient microchips will be able to take over for us completely - which should last all of 10 minutes before they really wise up and trick us all into going back to work again.
Smartphones aren't that smart yet, but applications like Dragon Go! (free, iPhone, iPad) a voice-recognition system that not only records what you say but acts on it, is moving them decidedly in that direction.
Made by Nuance, the same company that brought us the Dragon Dictation app, Dragon Go! frees your thumbs not just when you want to text, but when you want to search as well.
No longer must you hunt and peck around your tiny screen to play the latest song from Lady Gaga - just tap "record" and say "play Lady Gaga" and Dragon Go! will offer you a simple scroll-down menu of choices for your chosen activity - you can play her from your library, stream her from internet radio or YouTube, or download her from iTunes if you don't already have her (how embarrassing for you).
On top of these intuitive search results is a kind of tab-style menu offering specific web-portal alternatives if you prefer to broaden your search, from Google to Amazon to Twitter - you can even buy Lady Gaga-branded souvenirs on eBay if, for some reason, that's what you meant when you said "play" her.
But Dragon Go! has other action words in its repertoire as well. Ask "what's the weather like in Dubai?" and it will pull up a Google search result with the temperature (spoiler alert - hot), the humidity and even the four-day forecast (spoiler alert - hot, hot, hot, hot).
Ask it for directions, reviews of the latest Harry Potter movie or an apple tart recipe, and it relieves you of thumb-intensive searches, instead serving everything up in a simple click-and-choose format that requires only the most sparing use of your index finger.
Super-helpful apps like Dragon Go! deserve our attention - paranoid futurists might even say they warrant keeping an eye on.
Find more great ways to simply and improve your life with your smartphone at App of the Week. Have some great personal finance apps that you want to share? Write to Curt Brandao at firstname.lastname@example.org