You might not know it, but you’re already using Artificial Intelligence
Posted: 3 May 2017 | By Michael Garwood
By the time you’ve started to read this, it wouldn’t be too presumptuous to suggest that you’ve already encountered some form of AI.
You may still be in bed checking your phone or tablet, trying to ignore people on public transport, or just checking your emails. AI is everywhere!
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. The key is understanding the subject and dispelling any held beliefs that you might have that AI is this mysterious magical commodity grounded in the science fiction novels you read as a kid or saw on the big screen. (We’ve made a conscious effort not to mention any references to people that claim “they’ll be back”)
So, to help give AI and machine learning (check out our glossary) some context, and maybe provide the odd “oh, so that’s what that is” moment, we’ve compiled a very basic list of everyday examples of AI in action, which you, or at the very least, someone you know is using.
If you have a genuine interest in AI and would like to learn a little (a lot) more about how it works, how it’s being used and the benefits it provides – in a language we can all understand, please click here (it’s free too).
Let’s start with the most common. Online shopping has become big business in recent years. According to Invesp, In 2016, globally consumers spent more than $1.8 trillion on online retailers, up from $1.5 trillion the year before. That’s 7.4pc of total retail sales globally. The figure is set to $25 trillion by next year.
AI is playing a crucial role in this. Aside from the convenience of shopping online, retailers are now using machine learning based on your previous searches views and/or purchases to build a picture of you and your preference to make recommendations. Recommendations don’t even have to be made when viewing the website, instead appearing through the likes of Google Ads. The fact that a pair of shoes you looked at has suddenly appears whilst reading a sports report is no coincidence.
Amazon is perhaps one of the best known for deploying this technology, with ‘related to items you’ve viewed’, ‘frequently brought together’ and ‘customers also bought’, prompts appearing almost every step.
Movies and Music
The same rules apply for Music and Movie/Television services. Netflix started using algorithms for this purpose in 2015. The firm, which spends over $6 billion a year on content, searches billions of available content based on the account holders viewing habits to offer advice on what to watch next. Netflix claims since introducing AI, churn levels (cancellations) have fallen as a result of improved satisfaction levels, saving it more than $1 billion a year.
Personalised News Feed
There are millions of news sites in the world each generating vast amounts of content. Much of it may not be of interest, but to help ensure the ones that do, AI can help. Facebook launched its AI powered News Feed services since 2014. The service, which has more than a billion subscribers, uses algorithms to monitor yours and your connections interests based on groups you might follow or posts you have liked and sharers, to determine news which likely be of interest. The most popular articles, based on the number of views, likes and shares, are the most likely to appear on your feed.
Voice controlled (Natural Language Processing) personal assistants have surged into the mainstream over recent months and years. If you own an iPhone (later than the iPhone 4) chances are you have spoken to Siri who will attempt to answer your questions feeding off content on your device (schedule) or the internet. The same applies for Google Now (Android) and Gorkana (Windows). Data is continually gathered to learn more about the users in order to help provide more useful information. For example, if you have a meeting or a plane to catch, the PA will notify you not only as a reminder, but provide details on length of time it will take to get there and what roads to take based on traffic conditions.
More voice-first devices are also now gaining traction, such as the Amazon Echo, in which sales last year were said to be north of eight million. The devices are designed to help turn homes into smart homes, using the Amazon ‘Alexa’ voice commands to control connected appliances such as a TV, thermostat, lighting and so on. Sales according to VoiceLabs will reach 33 million this year – with businesses increasingly become adopters.
Amazon last year signed a major deal with Las Vegas hotel resort Wynn, to include its AI Alexa voice controlled Echo speakers in all 4,748 of its guest rooms.The deal, will make Wynn the first hotel chain in the world to provide guests with the ability to control temperature, lighting, audio and visual functions using voice commands.
One of the oldest forms of AI. Any games in which you compete against a computer is a form of AI. This has existed since 1951 for the mathematical game Nim. Since then AI has of course evolved, to the point now that the game is able to learn about your behaviours and to expose your potential weaknesses. This is prevalent particularly in strategical games such as Call of Duty, where enemies are able to communicate with one another in an attempt to defeat the human player.
AI is being heavily adopted for security purposes across many different sectors. Banks in particular are using AI to help monitor your spending activities, using algorithms to determine unusual behaviours which may detect potential fraud. For example, if someone is using their card in New York and then 10 minutes later in London, alerts will be sounded and automatic blocks on the card put in place. Similar methods are applied when making a card purchase, in which further information may be requested and even with email providers who will alert you to suspicious activity.
Customer service is becoming one of the fastest evolving areas of AI, and has already been adopted by many companies today. There are lots of examples where customers will visit a website where a chat option will pop up. Sometimes these are real people – but often, at least to begin with, you will be interacting with a machine. These are often called Virtual Agents or chatbots, which increasingly use Natural Language Processing providing help in multiple languages, as well as communicate, understand and respond to what is being asked in a more human way.
Wearables have been buzz-words in consumer tech for several years now, with IDC expecting sales to top 245 million by 2019 and a market value of $25 billion.
Most common examples include fitness bands and smartwatches, collecting various information; such a heartbeat/pulse, steps and distance travelled and your sleep patterns. This part if IoT, sensors collecting the information. The AI aspect is analysing that information and putting it to use. For many, wearables are a good way of monitoring your fitness. But businesses are now increasingly the technology to better manage their staff, such as patterns around stress levels.
Again, if you have an interest in AI and its various forms, please do take a look at our ultimate introduction report. It will provide you everything you need to know and make you sound really cleaver when talking to your workmates and friends.