How Artificial Intelligence Already Impacts Your Life—and Where You'll See It Next

January, 11 2016

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Written By
Brooke Torres


For a lot of people, the first thing that comes to mind when they hear 'artificial intelligence' is still some vision of a sci-fi universe. It seems unbelievable, magical, or (worst of all) terrifying. We get it—our industry doesn't always do the best job explaining the implications of AI breakthroughs on a mass scale. We're a big bunch of nerds, and we sometimes forget that not everyone is spending their free time digging through the same subreddits as we are. For instance, if you'd recently seen footage of a computer describing what's happening in a video in real-time, it might not seem that significant. But it's one of several huge milestones happening in AI, and what it really points to is the exponential expansion of possibilities. The reality is that machine learning has already showed up in a number of places in your life—whether you knew it or not. And the implications are only getting more awesome from here.

How Artificial Intelligence is Already Impacting Your Life:

1. Your credit card company knows you better than you think (well, its AI does):

When you get that automated call that your credit card has been flagged for fraudulent use, it's hard to imagine just how they knew—and so quickly. It isn't magic, but it can feel like it. Having been fed large amounts of purchasing data, the AIs that credit card companies use are able to detect anomalies in purchasing behavior, and predict with high accuracy if the card has been compromised and is being used by a thief. Since credit card companies lost an estimated $6.1 billion last year in fraud, you can see why they've invested big in a more innovative solution than the old, largely human-dependent systems.


2. Your shopping woes are being solved—or your experience enhanced if you’re already a purchasing aficionado:

Having a personal shopper to curate your wardrobe used to be strictly a luxury, and one not many of us would bother splurging on. With what deep learning and image recognition has paved the way for, teams like Stitch Fix have been able to create a personalized experience and made it available to the masses. Their AI recognizes that you happen to like plaid button downs, v-neck t-shirts, dark-wash jeans and knows that "in my first trimester" means that you are pregnant, and it will need to adjust your suggested wardrobe accordingly.


3. You might have an interesting new friend on Facebook:

If you're one of the lucky 10,000 or so in Silicon Valley who had Facebook's 'M' rolled out to you so far, you know that getting stuff done is going to look a lot better in the future. Though M currently has human trainers, it's something to get excited about—from ordering your lunch, to checking on that Amazon refund, products like M will be epic for busy people (or people who just want more time to binge on Netflix. No judgment.).


4. You’ve got new job prospects, if you’re into helping a robot learn (and other cool stuff):

Though there's been some fear about robots taking away jobs with advances in AI, there's no need to worry that we'll all be answering to an advanced Roomba. What we will see, though, is a new field of jobs emerging. Just like the advent of social media brought new roles to marketing teams, artificial intelligence is opening up a whole new field. Just ask those AI trainers out at Facebook's HQ.


Where You Can Expect to See AI Making a Big Impact in the Future:

1. AI will make you better at your job:

Our bosses are going to love us, because artificial Intelligence is also going to make us awesome at our jobs. Enter the virtual assistant: an intelligent bot to schedule all your meetings and take care of the administrative tasks that keep you from focusing on your biggest projects, or from watching important cat videos (kidding, mostly). That's why we built our virtual assistant, Talla.


2. You’ll see big advances in healthcare:

An AI can look at data in a way that a human cannot begin to process due to the vast amounts of data involved. IBM's Watson is diving into the medical field, and boasts a 90% accuracy rate in diagnosing lung cancer, whereas human doctors come in at the 50% rate. Wired explains that it would take 160 hours of reading a week for a doctor to keep up on the latest research, so being able to have Watson as an extra assistant is huge. Beyond improved diagnoses, we'll see reduced treatment costs.


3. Disaster safety and response is going to look very different:

Imagine the power of an accurate natural disaster predictor. Enter Watson, yet again, able to process huge amounts of data, that form non-linear relationships, yet point to areas at greatest risk and the likelihood of secondary effects, like power outages. There are obvious implications for both preparatory measures and on-the-ground responses. Though the technology isn't just there yet, we can expect to see it rolled out sometime in the not-too-distant future.


4. Transportation is getting a makeover, too:

Google isn’t the only team to take note of the implications of machine learning on the way we get around. Toyota is dropping funds into AI research on more autonomous cars with the goal of creating “a car that is never responsible for a crash.” Beyond that, they’re also working on a robotic assistant for homes, which could help people with various physical abilities in getting around.


5. You could get a new household assistant:

Mark Zuckerberg's New Years Resolution this year is just a bit more ambitious than most, with plans to create an AI to offload tasks around the household. In a January 3rd Facebook post, he talked about his future intelligent helper recognizing his voice, controlling the climate, music and lights in his home, using facial recognition to let friends in when they're at the door, and helping keep an eye on new baby Max. While we were all for his previous years' resolutions, like learning Mandarin to reading more, this is one everyone should get excited about.



Featured image courtesy of Scott Webb, Unsplash
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