Artificial intelligence may sound like something used in a Sci-Fi movie, but in actual fact, whether you are aware of it or not, you are benefiting from AI on an almost daily basis.
The recommendations you see on Netflix or Spotify aren’t just random, they have been generated by complex algorithms that look at your past habits and predict future tastes. Amazon also uses machine learning to provide personalised ‘recommended’ lists based on your previous purchase history.
Virtual Personal Assistants
Cortana, Google Now and Siri are all intelligent personal assistants that utilise artificial intelligence to help find answers to your questions. AI and machine learning is important in these apps as they collect information on your requests and use the data to provide personalised answers – they even use AI to better recognise your voice. Microsoft says that Cortana constantly learns from user input and will eventually develop the skill to anticipate the users’ needs without them even having to ask!
Have you ever received a text or email from your bank or credit card provider asking whether you had made a specific purchase? Many banks send these communications if they think there is a chance that your card has been used fraudulently. AI is often the technology deployed to detect risky looking transactions. In many cases, the machine learning algorithm is provided with large amounts of non-fraudulent purchases and then is asked to look for signs that a transaction falls outside the expected behaviour.
Video game AI has been around for a while, but it’s rapidly improving as technology gets better, resulting in video game characters that respond to stimuli and learn from your behaviours.
First-person shooters like the award-winning Call of Duty also make significant use of AI. The enemy can analyse the environment to find objects and carry out actions that benefit their survival. For example, they will communicate with other AI’s and investigate sounds in order to reach their objectives.
Although there has been lots of improvement, video games are fairly simplistic compared to the wider AI market. But due to the size of the industry and the money that gets pumped into research and development, expect further advancements to come.
Self-driving cars are moving closer to reality then most people think. With the likes of Tesla and Google throwing their hats into the ring, it’s only a matter of time before one of them launches officially to the public. Self-driving cars are reliant on AI and machine learning in order to adapt to the road ahead. Earlier this year, the Washington Post reported on an algorithm that Google had developed that could let driverless cars learn to drive in the same way that humans do: through experience.
Google’s AI technology started to learn how to drive by playing simple video games. The idea is that eventually the car will be able to scan the road ahead of it and make decisions based on what it sees, it will also learn in the process.
With Tesla’s autopilot feature already in production, we could see driverless cars launching as soon as next year!
Large retailers like Amazon and Tesco stand to make huge amounts of cash if they can anticipate your needs and wants. Amazon’s new anticipatory shipping project hopes to send you products before you need them! Whilst this technology hasn’t gone into production yet, high-street stores are using the same idea – distributing money-off vouchers based on predictive analytics algorithms.
The technology can also be applied to the online world, with many ecommerce retailers now developing automated 1:1 personalisation models based on machine learning algorithms.
Smart Home Devices
Many home devices like Nest now have the ability to learn your behavioural patterns and help you save money by adjusting the settings on appliances and the thermostat in an effort to reduce your carbon footprint and your energy bills. Nest uses AI technology to predict when you are likely to be arriving home and can have the heating on at the perfect temperature just as you arrive.
Lighting is another area where artificial intelligence comes into play. Apps that manage your lighting system can now automatically adjust based on where you are and what you’re doing. For example, the lights can dim when you’re watching TV and increase when you’re cooking dinner.
AI in the home has only just started, expect to see more applications being developed that harness the power of machine learning to improve your everyday life.
When you click that ‘Live Chat’ button on your favourite retailers’ website, you might not being talking to a human being. Many retailers have started to deploy chatbots to automate customer support – these chatbots use natural language processing to understand what questions you’ve asked and how to respond. Expect chatbots to become more prevalent in the next 12 months as retailers save huge swathes of cash “outsourcing” support to machines.
You don’t need a three-year journalism degree to produce a news article anymore. A machine with baked in AI can do the job at a fraction of the cost. Yahoo, Fox and Associate Press all use AI to write financial summaries and sports recaps. In other examples, Automated Insights – the company behind Wordsmith software – says that thousands of companies are now using their services to generated automated articles based on their own internal data.
With 1 surveillance camera for every 11 people in Britain, it’s no surprise that we are the most spied on country in the world. But with so many cameras recording 24 hours a day, how do security firms monitor the comings and goings? With AI of course! Security algorithms can take input from security cameras and determine whether there may be a threat, and if it sees a warning sign, it will alert human security officers. Of course the number of actions that these algorithms can detect is limited, however there are a number of AI tech startups looking to develop the technology to detect all sorts of behaviour.