• Martina Banyay

If AI is here, where is it?

I’d like to start with a simple question: Are you using AI?

If the answer is NO, you are in good company. Most people say they don’t use AI.

If the answer is YES, you belong to the vast majority of the population. A recent Gallup survey shows that 85% of all Americans use AI every day. I’m not sure about the number in the Nordics, but if you look at the services people are using, it should be something similar.

So, if we all are using AI how come we don’t know about it? Why is it invisible? Well, one thing is that we stop call it AI once in use. Instead we call it things related to what the products or services do for us, like for example navigation apps, digital assistants, video or music streaming services, ride-sharing apps, and so on.

Let’s have a look at some AI services you probably already are using.

Whenever you make a Google search, AI is there to make sure you get the best possible hits and see the most relevant results already on the first page. And if you go to an online retail store, AI is the engine running in the background suggesting a bunch of related products based on your previous purchasing behavior, your preferences, other people’s buying habits, with all of it resulting in a list of items that hopefully are of interest to you.

Every time you jump into an Uber, you experience the world of AI. Uber uses Machine Learning to enable an efficient ride-sharing marketplace, identify suspicious or fraudulent accounts, suggest optimal pickup and drop-off points, and even facilitate more delicious UberEATS delivery by recommending restaurants and predicting wait times so your food can get to you when you need it.

If you wake up on a gloomy Sunday morning, Spotify can play you some soft acoustic music that feels just perfect for a rainy day. By using AI, Spotify can give you music recommendations based on your listening habits, taking mood, time of day and weather into account.

If something fishy is going on with your bank account, like unusually large transactions that don’t fit with your normal behavior, you will get a notification from your bank. This is also AI. Finding the fastest route from A to B using Google Maps. AI again. Talking to chatbots that will help you out with questions, bookings, purchases. AI. Every time you open your inbox without having to see all the spam messages, or when you get automatic suggestions for how to respond to an email in a tone of voice that reflects you, the receiver and the subject you are discussing. AI again. I think you get the picture.

So most of us have been using AI on a daily basis for many years, just by searching on the web, using email programs, connecting to friend via Facebook suggestions, buying stuff online, booking tickets, using ride-sharing services, and so on.

As AI is a General Purpose Technology, it can be used in basically any domain, just like electricity. You can use it for such seemingly different things as adding bunny ears to yourself in Snapchat, to scan your body for possible indications of skin cancer using your smartphone.

Amazon has built a whole physical grocery store in Seattle, where you just walk in, pick whatever you want and then walk out again. As soon as you leave the building the check is cleared. AI – in combination with sensors and cameras - make everything work. Amazon has also created something called “Echo Look”, which keeps track of your wardrobe and automatically create a “lookbook” where you can see what clothes you have worn during the last couple of weeks. The lookbook suggests new combinations of clothes to wear from your wardrobe, and – of course - what you can buy from Amazon to complement your wardrobe.

There are intelligent office managers that can help you take notes and book appointments and even do some follow-up work after a meeting. And in the near future we will have digital assistants that can seek and present information that might be useful for your current project.

As Artificial Intelligence is infused into everything around us, it will transform our everyday experiences. Everything that has been digitized could be cognified.

If you want to know more about AI and can spare 5 minutes a day, then you should watch this 7-days series I've created on what AI is, how it can be used and how to get started.

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© 2020 by Martina Banyay