Artificial Intelligence: 6 ways it will impact everyday life

Artificial Intelligence: 6 ways it will impact

everyday life

 

Technology moves at breakneck speed, and we now have more power in our pockets than we had in our homes in the 1990s. Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a fascinating concept of science fiction for decades, but many researchers think we’re finally getting close to making AI a reality.#(Artificial Intelligence: 6 ways it will impact everyday life)

Big data is speeding up the AI development process, and we may be seeing more integration of AI technology in our everyday lives relatively soon. While much of this technology is still fairly rudimentary at the moment, we can expect a sophisticated AI to one day significantly impact our everyday lives.

Here are 6 ways AI might affect us in the future.

#(Artificial Intelligence: 6 ways it will impact everyday life)

 

1. Automated Transportation

We’re already seeing the beginnings of self-driving cars, though the vehicles are currently required to have a driver present at the wheel for safety. Despite these exciting developments, the technology isn’t perfect yet, and it will take a while for public acceptance to bring automated cars into widespread use. Google began testing a self-driving car in 2012, and since then, the U.S. Department of Transportation has released definitions of different levels of automation, with Google’s car classified as the first level down from full automation. Other transportation methods are closer to full automation, such as buses and trains.

2. Cyborg Technology

One of the main limitations of being human is simply our own bodies—and brains. Researcher Shimon Whiteson thinks that in the future, we will be able to augment ourselves with computers and enhance many of our own natural abilities. Though many of these possible cyborg enhancements would be added for convenience, others might serve a more practical purpose. Yoky Matsuoka of Nest believes that AI will become useful for people with amputated limbs, as the brain will be able to communicate with a robotic limb to give the patient more control. This kind of cyborg technology would significantly reduce the limitations that amputees deal with on a daily basis.

Artificial Intelligence: 6 ways it will impact everyday life
Artificial Intelligence: 6 ways it will impact everyday life

#(Artificial Intelligence: 6 ways it will impact everyday life)

3. Taking over dangerous jobs

Robots are already taking over some of the most hazardous jobs available, including bomb defusing. These robots aren’t quite robots yet, according to the BBC. They are technically drones, being used as the physical counterpart for defusing bombs, but requiring a human to control them, rather than using AI. Whatever their classification, they have saved thousands of lives by taking over one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. As technology improves, we will likely see more AI integration to help these machines function.

Other jobs are also being reconsidered for robot integration. Welding, well known for producing toxic substances, intense heat, and earsplitting noise, can now be outsourced to robots in most cases. Robot Worx explains that robotic welding cells are already in use, and have safety features in place to help prevent human workers from fumes and other bodily harm.

#(Artificial Intelligence: 6 ways it will impact everyday life)

4. Solving climate change

Solving climate change might seem like a tall order from a robot, but as Stuart Russell explains, machines have more access to data than one person ever could—storing a mind-boggling number of statistics. Using big data, AI could one day identify trends and use that information to come up with solutions to the world’s biggest problems.

5. Robot as friends 

Who wouldn’t want a friend like C-3PO? At this stage, most robots are still emotionless and it’s hard to picture a robot you could relate to. However, a company in Japan has made the first big steps toward a robot companion—one who can understand and feel emotions. Introduced in 2014, “Pepper” the companion robot went on sale in 2015, with all 1,000 initial units selling out within a minute. The robot was programmed to read human emotions, develop its own emotions, and help its human friends stay happy. Pepper goes on sale in the U.S. in 2016, and more sophisticated friendly robots are sure to follow.

Robo human

 

#(Artificial Intelligence: 6 ways it will impact everyday life)

6. Improved elder care

For many seniors, everyday life is a struggle and may have to hire outside help to manage their care or rely on family members. AI is at a stage where replacing this need isn’t too far off, says Matthew Taylor, a computer scientist at Washington State University. “Home” robots could help seniors with everyday tasks and allow them to stay independent and in their homes for as long as possible, which improves their overall well-being.

Although we don’t know the exact future, it is quite evident that interacting with AI will soon become an everyday activity. These interactions will clearly help our society evolve, particularly with regards to automated transportation, cyborgs, handling dangerous duties, solving climate change, friendships and improving the care of our elders. Beyond these six impacts, there are even more ways that AI technology can influence our future, and this very fact has professionals across multiple industries extremely excited for the ever-burgeoning future of artificial intelligence.#(Artificial Intelligence: 6 ways it will impact everyday life)

 

The future of artificial intelligence: two experts disagree

So what is the future of AI? Michael Milford and Peter Stratton are both heavily involved in AI research and they have different views on how it will impact on our lives in the future.#(Artificial Intelligence: 6 ways it will impact everyday life)

What will major advances in AI we see over the next 10 years?

Peter:

Many auto manufacturers and research institutions are competing to create practical driverless cars for general road use. While currently, these cars can drive themselves for much of the time, many challenges remain in dealing with bad weather (heavy rain, fog, and snow) and random real-world events such as roadworks, accidents and other blockages.

These incidents often require some degree of human judgment, common sense and even calculated risk to successfully navigate through. We are still a long way from fully autonomous vehicles that don’t need a licensed driver ready to take control in an instant.

The same can be said for all the AI that we will see over the coming 10-20 years, such as online virtual personal assistants, accountants, legal and financial advisers, doctors and even physical shop-bots, museum guides, cleaners and security guards.

They will be advanced tools that are very useful in specific situations, but they will never fully replace people because they will have little common sense (probably none, in fact).

Michael:

We will definitely see a range of steady, incremental improvements in everyday AI. Online product recommendations will get better, your phone or car will understand your voice increasingly well and your vacuum cleaner robot won’t get stuck as often.

It’s likely that we’ll see some major advances beyond today’s technology in some but not all of the following areas: self-driving cars, healthcare, utilities (electricity, water, and so on) management, legal, and service areas such as cleaning robots.

I disagree on self-driving cars – there’s no real reason why there won’t be fully autonomous controlled ride-sharing fleets in the affluent centers of cities, and this is indeed the strategy of companies such as autonomy, working in Singapore and Boston.#(Artificial Intelligence: 6 ways it will impact everyday life)

What approaches will lead to the biggest improvements in AI?

Michael:

Major advances will come from two sources.

First, there is a long runway of steady incremental improvements left in many areas of conventional AI – large, complex neural networks and algorithms. These systems will continue to improve steadily as more training data becomes available and as scientists perfect them.

The second area will likely be a biological inspiration. Scientists are only just starting to tap into the knowledge about how brain networks work, and it’s likely they will copy or adapt what we know about animal and human brains to make current deep learning networks far more capable.

Peter:

Old-fashioned AI, which was based on pure logic and computer programs that tried to get machines to behave intelligently, basically failed to do anything that humans are good at and computers are not (speech and image recognition, playing complex strategic games, for example).

What’s quite clear now is that our best-performing AI is based on how we think the brain works.

But our current brain-based AI (called Deep Artificial Neural Networks) is still light years away from emulating an actual brain. Enhanced AI capabilities in the future will come from developing better theories of how the brain works.

The fundamental science needed to cultivate these theories will probably come from publicly funded research institutions, which will then be spun off into commercial start-up companies, and then quickly acquired by interested large corporations if they look like they might be successful.

How will artificial intelligence affect society and jobs?

Peter:

Most jobs won’t be under threat for a long time, probably several generations. Real people are needed to actually make any significant decisions because AI currently has no common sense.

Instead of replacing jobs, our overall quality of life will go up. For example, right now few people can afford a personal assistant or a full-time life coach. In the near future, we’ll all have (a virtual) one!

Our virtual doctor will be working for us daily, monitoring our health and making exercise and lifestyle suggestions.

Our houses and workplaces might be cleaner, but we will still need people to clean the spots the robots miss. We’ll also need people to deploy, retrieve and maintain all the robots.

Our goods will be cheaper due to reduced transport costs, but we’ll still need human drivers to cover all the situations the self-drivers can’t.

All this doesn’t even mention the whole new entertainment technologies and industries that will spring up to capture our increased disposable income and to cash-in on our improved quality of life.

So yes, jobs will change, but there will still be plenty of them.

Michael:

It’s likely that a significant fraction of jobs will be under threat over the coming decade. It’s important to note that this won’t necessarily be divided by blue-collar versus white-collar, but rather by which occupations are easily automatable.

It’s unlikely that an effective plumber robot will be built in the near future, but aspects of the so far undisrupted construction industry may change radically.

Some people say machines will never have the emotional capabilities of humans. Whether that is true or not, many jobs will be under threat with even the most rudimentary levels of emotional understanding and interaction.

Don’t think about the complex, nuanced interaction you had with your psychologist; instead think about the one with that disinterested, uncaring part-time hospitality worker. The bar for disruption is not as high as many think.

That leaves the question of what happens then. There are two scenarios – the first being that, like in the past, new types of jobs are generated by the technological revolution.

The other is that humanity gradually transitions into a Utopian society where scientific, artistic and sporting pursuits are pursued at leisure. The short to medium-term reality is probably somewhere in between.#(Artificial Intelligence: 6 ways it will impact everyday life)

Will Skynet/the machines take over and enslave humanity?

Michael:

It’s unlikely in the near future but possible. The real danger is the unpredictability. Skynet-like killer cyborgs as featured in the Terminator film series are unlikely because that development cycle takes a while, and we have multiple opportunities to stop development.

But AI could destroy or damage humanity in other unpredictable ways. For example, when big companies like Google Deepmind start entering into healthcare, it’s likely that they will improve patient outcomes through a combination of big data and intelligent systems.

One of the temptations or pressures will be to deploy these extremely complex systems before we completely understand every possible ramification. Imagine the pressure if there is good evidence it will save thousands of lives per year.

As we well know, we have a long history of negative unintended consequences with new technology that we didn’t fully understand.

In a far-fetched but not impossible healthcare scenario, deploying AI may lead to catastrophic outcomes – a worldwide AI network deciding in ways invisible to us human observers to kill us all off to optimize some misguided performance goal.

The challenge is that with newly developing technologies, there is an illusion of 100% control, which doesn’t really exist.

Peter:

All our current AI, and any that we can possibly create in the foreseeable future are just tools – developed for specific jobs and totally useless outside of the exact duties they were designed for. They don’t have thoughts or feelings. These AIs are just as likely to try to take over the world as your Xbox or your toaster.

One day, I believe, we will build machines that rival us in intelligence, and these machines will have their own thoughts and possibly learn in an unconstrained way. This sounds scary. But humans are dangerous for exactly the reasons that the machines won’t be.

Humans evolved in a constant struggle for life and death, which made us innately competitive and potentially treacherous. When we build the machines, we can instead build them with any underlying motivation that we would like.

For example, we could build an intelligent machine whose only desire is to dismantle itself. Or, we could build in a hidden remote-controlled off switch that is completely separate from any of the machine’s own circuits, and an auto-shutdown reflex if the machine somehow ever notices it.

All these safeguards will be trivial to implement. So there is simply no way that we could accidentally build a machine that then tries to wipe out the human race.

Of course, because humans themselves are dangerous, someone could build a machine that doesn’t have these safeguards and use it for nefarious purposes. But we have that same problem now with nuclear weapons.

In the future, just as now, we have to hope that we are simply smart enough to use our technology wisely.#(Artificial Intelligence: 6 ways it will impact everyday life)

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