Humans and Technology – a Bright Perspective or a High-Tech Nightmare?
In the past few decades, we have come to observe how quickly technology has developed and how drastically it has changed our lives. Everything from how we communicate and shop to even how we date has been influenced by technological advances. Although many of us probably still remember a time when computers were bulky and clunky and barely anyone owned a cell phone, there is no denying that it is difficult to imagine our current lives without modern technology.
Everywhere we turn, we are surrounded by computers or some form of computer powered devices. These computers are incredible at finding, processing, and storing huge volumes of data, but that isn’t all they do. Computers are also learning from us, humans, in a process called machine learning. Essentially, this skill enables computers to learn from their users to provide us with the answers we are looking for and make our lives easier. Machine learning is what your email uses to decide whether or not something is spam or what YouTube uses to suggest the next video for you to watch. Although these skills are useful, we may not really think of the computers that display them as ‘intelligent’. At least not in the way that we think of human intelligence. All the same, machine learning is actually what sits at the base of what is known as Artificial Intelligence, or simply AI.
The first thing that may come to mind when you hear “AI” is the storyline of a creepy sci-fi movie or TV series, but in reality there’s no reason to be alarmed. Artificial intelligence is not actually about to take over the world… At least not in the form of manipulative and merciless humanoid robots. Most people don’t realize that AI is not all that new or mysterious a concept. The term originated in the 1950s, at a time when scientists were already familiar with the idea of “thinking machines”. Our computers may not yet be fully capable of what mid-20th century scientists imagined, but artificial intelligence is currently one of the most researched and swiftly developing branches of technology. Nearly every major tech company has an AI program, hoping to advance the field while allowing everyone to benefit from it.
Even though the AI of today is still highly dependent on human input, it is already capable of achieving a lot on its own. With the help of AI-based technologies, computers are able to provide us with more assistance than ever before. Familiar with Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant? Yes, voice recognition and search (though still requiring perfection) is also a form of AI. Siri uses machine learning technology to serve as a digital personal assistant. She learns to predict and understand our requests while looking up information, providing us with directions, and scheduling appointments. So does Google Assistant, working in a similar manner. As for Alexa, this all-in-one internet browser, personal shopper, home itinerary, remote control, and more is providing us with a revolutionary hands-free at-home form of assistance we never knew we needed.
Besides understanding and fulfilling our commands, artificial intelligence is improving our online browsing and shopping experiences. Using algorithms, e-commerce stores such as Amazon are able to successfully predict our next purchase. We wouldn’t be surprised if they eventually started shipping us exactly what we need before we even realize it ourselves! Netflix is another example of a company that uses this system of analysis and prediction. Its suggestions based on your previous choices and reactions are practically spot on, and provide the viewer with an optimal experience that keeps them satisfied while also wanting more. As for music, Spotify and Pandora are two of the leading services in the world. How do you think they know exactly what kind of music you’ll enjoy? We’re pretty sure you know the answer by now…
So what is the realistic future of AI? It seems to be very positive and centered on humans’ well-being. A perfect example is the way artificial intelligence is being used in the automotive industry. Google is currently in the process of implementing AI in self-driving cars. While still undergoing testing and development, these vehicles are expected to be a significantly safer means of transport than traditional cars. It is estimated that over 90% of traffic fatalities are caused by human error, so eliminating the need for a driver is expected to significantly reduce the number of accidents caused. Intrigued? If you have the chance, take a look at a new Tesla car. These high-tech wonders are already equipped with AI-based self-driving features to help avoid accidents and keep us safe.
Furthermore, artificial intelligence will soon be able to save lives in a “hands on” manner as well. AI is currently being discussed as an important tool in hospitals, as it can provide very precise surgical assistance and crystal clear diagnoses. As for business, there is a place for AI there as well. It can be used to create a more efficient and secure workplace by noting trends in lighting, heating, and office equipment use to virtually control all of the necessary settings for you. And finally, artificial intelligence will simply make our lives more fun. Many existing research teams are testing the possibilities of AI in games, for instance Google’s emoji scavenger hunt. While these types of experiments aren’t as significant to the future and development of humankind, they are certainly capable of providing us with entertainment and happiness.
While we’ve barely scratched the surface of the potential of technological advances and how they can help us both now and in the future, we’re convinced that technology in all its forms is meant to be used by people and make our lives better. Is the future of technology something to be afraid of? We believe it isn’t. After all, it is created by people for people. We are convinced that humans and technology are and will continue to be connected, working together to create a bright and shiny future.