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The Robots are coming. Or are they here already?

Written by Maggie Coggan

It’s always intrigued me as to why exactly we would ever want to develop this technology to the point were it could one day be a threat to us. Despite the concerns about robots taking over humanity as we know it, there are a lot of people, getting paid a lot of money to develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) to be used in most aspects of our lives.

A lot of people talk about the future of this technology,  but the thing is, AI already exists. We use it and consume products and media run by it most days of our lives. Some are more obvious than others, but none the less, they exist. And you’re probably already using them.

Below are five well known and lesser known everyday AI items that you might come across in your everyday life, so chuck on your tin foil hat and have a read.

 

Social media: 

Facebook updates more times in year than you care to take notice of. Because they happen so frequently, the social media platform have been able to slowly slip artificial intelligence into the website without us even realising. Some are more obvious than others. ‘Chatbots’, for instance are used by companies to ‘provide a personalised customer service experience’ without having to actually talk to a person. You can ask for health advice, styling tips or even book a hotel room with a bot, simply by sending a quick message. While there was a lot of hype around the potential of bots, last week, two bots started talking to one another in their own secret language, prompting Facebook to halt the bot program completely. This hasn’t stopped other companies such as Google and Amazon from continuing to use it.

Watson:  

The IBM Supercomputer, Watson, first caught everyone’s attention when it beat two human competitors on the US quiz show Jeopardy! in 2011. The purpose of Watson is not just of course to answer trivia questions, but to process language including phrases a computer might not normally understand. Six years and billions of dollars in investment and research later, Watson is no longer a single computer sitting in the IBM offices. It’s used by people all over the world who are accessing it on their phone, own data network or desktop which can create chat bots, translate language, predict personality characteristics in text and even produce medical diagnosis if the right information is fed into it. AI improves the more it’s used, so Watson is only getting smarter. If all this has happened in five years, there’s no telling what sort of information Watson will be spitting out in the next few.

News services: 

Ever read a finance report online where you think, ‘surely that’s written by a robot.’ Well, you’re probably not incorrect. News corporations such as Yahoo!, AP and Fox all use AI to knock out basic sports recaps and basic finance articles. Because articles like this don’t require a lot of creativity, data is fed into programs which a generic product which provides all the necessary facts. You still need a human to feed the data into the program however, so the robots haven’t quite taken over yet.

Netflix:

Netflix is great. It’s convenient, cheap, and has made it easier to binge watch high quality TV series than ever before. There’s also a lot of stuff on there, which can be a bit daunting if indecisiveness is an issue for you. Luckily AI has come to the rescue, because Netflix, like many other technologically advanced inventions out there, has invented highly accurate predictions on what you want to watch next, by using and analysing your feedback and previous viewing choices. Streaming services have given way to a lot of smaller film makers, however this is one of the tool’s flaw, as it is more likely that it skims over these smaller productions in favour of more popular and large scale TV shows.

 

Google and Amazon home:

The smart home invention developed by Amazon, Alexa two years ago. It took the world by storm, becoming the first home-based device to be able to scour the internet for an instant answer, do your online shopping and set alarms by simply asking it to – from any room in your house and in any language. While the rest of the world enjoyed this technology, it wasn’t available to Australians because boats don’t sail that far or something. Google Home however has recently launchd, which essentially does the same stuff as Alexa, and is designed to be the missing piece of convenience in your home life. Some are worried about privacy, because how do you stop it listening and recording to everything you say? Google assure us though that they only way you can activate it is when you say ‘ok Google,” or “Hey Google”. So as long as you avoid those statements (or just avoid putting this product in your house in the first place) your private info won’t be sent to the robot overlords.

About the author

Maggie Coggan