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Being Human

10/03/2017 16:23

Artificial Intelligence needs to go beyond the personal if it's going to have a life changing effect

It's only just March and the news has been awash with big future looking tech stories - stories that tell us how technology is set to make our lives even better - once again.

Following the annual Vegas tech circus at the start of the year, CES, we're seeing more products enter our homes and hearts that promise to offer a personalised experience to learn our behavior and truly make a difference.

Brands shouting about personalisation are infiltrating everything from cars to washing machines, cameras to beauty products. Even a cruise company jumped on board. And of course not forgetting one of the biggest tech hitters - Samsung - with their 'revolutionary' personalised TVs that claim to deliver news on your favourite football team while downloading the music featured on the TV show you're currently binging on - now that's some technology I could find useful!

As part of the personalisation message, AI was one of the most banded about words at the show. No surprises there - it's like a check box that any new gadget or app needs to tick. While the best of intentions is meant, the abundance of its use is starting to lose its appeal.

The current poster child for AI could only be Amazon with Alexa, a product that has the potential to really make a difference to our daily lives.

Unfortunately, rather than news of these positive life enhancements, we're seeing the failings of the AI technology becoming a joke. Last month saw Alexa supposedly heading off on a dolls house shopping spree in the US, and just last week the Wall Street Journal reported that anyone with the name Alex, Alexa or Alexis are having 'their lives ruined' by the device!

In order for us to stop seeing it as a joke and for these devices to be truly effective though, there needs to be some sort of active learning, rather than just personalizing through an algorithm.

Researchers at Microsoft have been reported as identifying this as a real problem for these types of devices. They are marketed as "intelligent" assistants, with clever jokes and worldly knowledge, yet they often frustrate users with their lack of common sense.

This is the crux of it, we need to go beyond just the personal - for the technology to truly make a difference it needs a human approach.

Technology that's personal might know your favourite type of cereal or who's party your child is attending this weekend. Technology that's human actively learns and understands that knowledge doesn't stand still. It knows that you started a diet so you're eating fruit instead of cereal this week and that your child's best friend has changed four times since the start of the year. It also knows when it's time to get offline and return to the real world.

For me - anything that helps me step away from the laptop and put away my phone will be the most life changing of them all.

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