5 Ways Artificial Intelligence Is Already Influencing Your Daily Life and You Don't Even Know It
For many of us, the very mention of artificial intelligence (AI) conjures up futuristic notions of Skynet and the malevolent robots that rose up to destroy humankind in the Terminator film series.
In reality, however, artificial intelligence is already here and it's not out to kill us -- well, not yet, anyway. Our computers are smarter than most of us realize and they're getting smarter all the time.
I had an eerie moment of this realization recently when searching my iPhone camera roll for some photos of a trip to the Cotswolds in the U.K. a few years ago. I opened up the search bar and started typing the word but only got up to the third letter when an album of images popped up featuring me and my heavily pregnant wife assembling a cot for our soon-to-be-born son.
What made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck was the fact that I had never given these photos a caption or category that could have indicated the content of the image. My phone had somehow "inspected" the image and identified that it indeed featured a cot.
I quickly discovered that my phone was far from unique or special in its ability. In the weeks that followed I noticed that Facebook had begun recognizing the faces of friends in the photos I was about to post without me having to manually tag them. The AI-driven technology that underpins this somewhat unnerving development has achieved an astonishing degree of accuracy in recent years.
While the ethics and practicality of artificial intelligence are still up for debate, consider these five ways AI is already influencing and impacting your day-to-day life -- whether you are aware of it or not:
- Virtual assistants, such as Siri or Google Assistant, can not only recognize what you say in natural language but even ascertain context and intent based on your tone of voice and request history.
- Voice recognition technology already enables you to speak a sentence in one language and have it translated to the listener's language in real time.
- Recommendation algorithms on Spotify or Amazon make intelligent suggestions of products, books or music you may like.
- The map software on your phone makes route suggestions based on your previous travel patterns and current traffic conditions.
- The spam filter in your email software that quickly learns how to discern the sorts of emails that are relevant and necessary -- and which ones aren't.
From a commercial and business perspective, the current applications of artificial intelligence are equally striking.
JPMorgan Chase recently introduced a system for reviewing commercial loan contracts, which means work that once took loan officers 360,000 hours is now completed in a few seconds.
One Brazilian online retailer implemented an AI system to predict the likelihood of customers clicking on certain advertisements, allowing them to make ad placements more effective, resulting in $125 million in additional revenue.
Of all the commercial applications of AI, Google's recent mapping of the exact location of every business, household and street number in France stands out as especially remarkable. Traditionally a job this enormous would have required hundreds of GPS-enabled humans to manually go suburb to suburb and would have likely taken well over a year. Using AI, Google was able to program its image-recognition software to trawl through the millions of images in its Street View database to identify street numbers. The entire process took less than 60 minutes.
Computers are getting smarter with every passing day -- some even predict that they'll overtake human intellectual capacity by as early as 2029. But, AI is more than a technology that will define our future -- it is impacting our present in some extraordinary ways too.