“I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t-do that.”
Ever since 1968, when HAL defied Dave in 2001: A Space Odyssey, we’ve been a little wary of the future capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI). Throw in The Terminator, Blade Runner, and a flurry movies about rogue AI and it’s no wonder we all get a little nervous. We have seen the movies – it doesn’t end well for mankind.
What is AI?
Wikipedia defines it as “Artificial intelligence (AI) is the ability of a computer program or a machine to think and learn. It is also a field of study which tries to make computers “smart”. So essentially AI refers to “smart technology” and being able to instantly organize and sift through large volumes of data to provide users with a specific response or a specific action. This is why according to Sage, over 60% of companies expected will use machine learning to manage some aspect of their business operations by 2018.
You are already using with AI without realizing it.
AI systems work on the same premise: using user input to scan data to find the most likely desired output, then presenting that data in an easy to understand format. AI is the core of these products:
1. Personal Assistants
If you ever said, “Hey Siri” or “Ok Google” then you have used AI. Whether your Alexa or Amazon Echo is updating you on the traffic, or your app is predicting future sales markets based on your location and weather, these systems use smart technologies to understand your instruction and provide you with a relevant answer.
We just want answers and we want them now. This is what makes AI an idea first-line customer support systems. Businesses are deploying AI to help customers identify keywords in questions and based on those keywords, responses are compiled. For example: Instead of calling Customer Service to ask when your order will arrive, you can now send a Facebook Message and ask the courier company when your parcel will arrive with the tracking code. Banks are adding bots to their workflow and you can order your flowers with a simple text message [read more about bots from SXSW here]
3. Purchase, Watch and Listen Recommendations
One of Amazon’s best sales technique was in the simple and yet effective message “Customers who bought this item also bought…” Amazon’s recommendation and matching systems resulted in keeping us on their site longer, browsing and more products and buying additional items. Netflix and Hulu do the same by understanding the types of movies and series that we watch and they recommend other titles that we would like based on our watch list.
4. Hardware Automation
Home AI monitors environmental data to automatically control heating, lighting and even open and close the blinds. Meanwhile, manufacturers are utilizing smart technology to monitor component condition, order replacement parts before they fail, and even shut down individual systems to prevent imminent accidents. Our cars can send us alters to inform us of specific items that need replacing before they cause more expensive damage.
5. Facebook “Insights”
If you use Facebook for your business, you know about the “Insights” tab. This is Facebook’s free AI, which collects and correlates user data. From collecting information on demographics to how long users are watching videos, Facebook provides page managers with insight into who is looking at that page, for how long, and which posts are most engaging. Over time, Insights starts to recommend advert campaigns to maximise client engagement.
So in summary:
Whether you’re asking “What movie is showing tonight?” or speaking to a cognitive accountant on your phone to manage your finances, or using smart applications to inform your future business decisions, AI is already automating the more mundane everyday activities and helping us to be more productive.
So there is nothing to fear with AI…well…at least until someone invents SkyNet