We’re still in the first minutes of the first day of the internet revolution.
– Scott Cook
co-founder of Intuit and director of Ebay and Proctor & Gamble
Artificial Intelligence is a field that can be complicated to understand. We’ve seen media representations about AI at its potential worst – a phenomenon that has given many of us reason for pause or concern about these growing technological advancements. While there are valid considerations to be factored in alongside AI in terms of its safety, ethics, and practicality, many of the innovators in the field of Artificial Intelligence are working with the intention of using AI to greatly enhance human life.
In fact, AI is already a part of most of our daily lives, whether we are aware of it or not.
Have you ever…
…Gone down a YouTube rabbit hole of suggested videos when bored?
…Taken music recommendations from Spotify to discover a new artist?
…Deposited a check using your smartphone?
…Received a fraud alert from your bank?
…Used any kind of social media app?
…Shopped on Amazon?
…Searched for something Google?
…Given a voice command to Siri, Alexa or Cortana?
If you have done any of the things above, then you have interacted with artificial intelligence. For most of us, we do many of these things every day!
In this article, we want to unpack some examples of the ways in which we are already using AI in our day to day lives. So many of these examples are still in their infancy in terms of their use of AI, and yet most of us probably couldn’t do our jobs, connect with our friends, or even get from point A to point B without the help of AI.
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Areas Where AI is Already Making our Lives Easier
You know those things virtually all of us have in our pockets, that are such an integral part of daily life we’re often completely unaware of how much we rely on them? You’ve got it – our cellphones! These devices are access points to a number of different AI systems. If you have an iPhone that you unlock with Face ID – that’s AI at work right there. This process uses machine learning algorithms to scan your face with thousands of infrared dots and then compares that to whatever data it has stored of your face to determine whether or not it’s really you.
A number of other functions on our phones use AI as well. If you’ve ever used the voice-to-text feature on your phone, you are using artificial intelligence that uses natural language processing in order to make that transcription happen. Portrait mode on the iPhone camera is another example of artificial intelligence – your camera takes in information and makes a decision about what part of the shot needs to be in focus.
Once we unlock our cellphones with the facial recognition software we just discussed, the next step is often to open up one of the many social media platforms that make up modern life. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, you name it – it’s likely already using AI.
Pinterest, for example, is a leading artificial intelligence company whose technology can identify over 2.5 million different objects in a photo.
On Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms, AI is determining what you will see on your feed, suggesting friends and accounts for you to engage with, using facial recognition to suggest tags for photos, and more. Messenger chatbots are another example of AI at work.
Additionally, many of these companies have started to employ machine learning algorithms to identify and combat hate speech, terroristic language, and disinformation on their platforms.
One of the more obvious, but also highly relevant uses of artificial intelligence is search engines. Google is a top contender here. However, any search engine that is scanning the entirety of the internet and bringing tailor-made results to your search is utilizing this technology. Beyond that, search engines are always seeking to improve their algorithms to better learn your preferences and to bring you content that you will value and engage with the most.
If you’ve used any number of streaming platforms for content – Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Spotify, among others, then you have engaged with AI. Here, AI is consistently learning about your preferences in an effort to be better able to make recommendations for what you should watch or listen to next. This is extremely helpful for the most part, however it’s worth keeping in mind to avoid going down rabbit holes of content when and if we need to do other life activities.
Video games are also often employing some sort of AI technology in order to allow their games to improvise with players and make them that much more enjoyable to play.
There are a number of features in your inbox that you may not realize are dependent on artificial intelligence. For example, Smart Compose is a newer feature which can predict and complete a sentence based on what you’ve typed already, saving many of us a significant amount of time. There is also Quick Reply, which generates responses for you that you can tap and send straight away. Finally, apps like Grammarly and grammar checking are AI writing assistants that enable us to prevent mistakes in those very important emails. In addition, anti-virus software, filtering for spam, and organizing your emails by importance are all tasks that AI is assisting with.
Online shopping and companies like Amazon have revolutionized life for many of us. While sometimes the tailored ads we receive can be a bit unnerving, it is also pretty great to have our tastes and preferences catered to so well! Any of the recommendations that you receive, or even being able to see “Products related to this item” in order to speed up the process of finding exactly what you want, are time-saving results brought to you by artificial intelligence enhancing the shopping experience.
As stated in the introduction, if you have ever deposited a check from your phone to your bank by scanning it, you used artificial intelligence to do so. Banking is just one more area where AI is changing the game – making things safer and more efficient for customers on a daily basis. If you get a low-balance alert, a fraud detection message, or even log into your online bank account, AI is playing an important part in all of those processes.
On one extreme, artificial intelligence is now paving the way for self-driving cars and companies like Tesla to populate the highways with AI. However, you don’t need to have driven a self-driving car to have engaged with this technology.
Using virtually any kind of navigation software – Google Maps, Apple Maps, Waze, etc. to get from point A to point B is yet another example of how AI is making our lives easier every day. Not only are these apps giving us directions, they are also monitoring traffic and weather conditions in real time to give us the most optimal route to our destination. This requires AI to analyze and interpret thousands of data points!
Furthermore, if you have ever called an Uber or even booked a plane ticket online, these systems surely relied on AI software to bring you such convenient options.
Smart devices such as Amazon Echo speakers have changed all sorts of things in our daily lives. We can talk to Alexa or Siri and have them do a number of tasks for us, from turning on and off lights in our home, setting timers, filling grocery lists, answering questions, and even telling us jokes! These devices run on artificial intelligence, and are a more embodied version of AI.
If you don’t have Alexa or Siri in your home, there are a number of other smart devices that have been appearing on the market. Smart refrigerators, heating and cooling systems, and lighting systems are all available to us now. You may have heard of Roomba, a smart little robot vacuum that uses AI to scan its surroundings, estimate room size, avoid obstacles, and determine the most efficient cleaning routes.
As you can see, AI can already be found in a wide variety of places and functions in our day to day lives. Many of the tasks in which AI is assisting us are extremely helpful – they save us time, help us make decisions, look out for us, entertain us, and simplify processes that would otherwise be more costly, time-consuming, or just frustrating.
The most exciting part about all this is that we are truly just at the beginning of what is possible.
So perhaps, instead of approaching that possibility with fear, we can be encouraged that this technology is already here, helping so many of us. Perhaps, as we continue to grow and evolve in our understanding of this technology, we can harness it for the greatest good and use it to help human life flourish, with more time and freedom for the things that truly matter.