How artificial intelligence is changing lives, from your health to your movie choices
But tech industry journalist insists there are still limits to how far AI can go in replacing humans
By Trent Gillies
Artificial intelligence, or AI, is a real and growing part of our lives.
From voice-controlled assistants to online ordering to self driving cars in development, AI is the brains behind computer software. As it improves computers, making them faster and smarter, is this technology a threat?
“I wouldn’t see it as a threat, necessarily,” Recode reporter April Glaser told CNBC’s “On the Money” in an interview. Glaser covers robots, drones and other smart machines for the technology news website.
“But artificial intelligence programmes do know more than you or I do, particularly when it comes to specific areas.”
One example is in medicine, where AI technology is helping doctors recognise cancerous tumours.
“If something has artificial intelligence in it that means it has software in it that allows the computer programme to do something on its own without a human pressing a button the entire time.”
Glaser said using AI, companies are “able to anticipate behaviour by drawing on your past behaviour. They require a tremendous amount of data that they process, these software algorithms, in order to determine what you might want next.”
She added that “there are all sorts of ways these predictive algorithms can and have already creeped into our lives.”
While shopping on Amazon, the site might suggest you may want a flashlight to go with that tent you’ve bought. On Netflix, it knows what movies you might enjoy.
“So if you typically go for romantic comedies, then it’s going to suggest romantic comedy next based on your behaviour,” she told CNBC.
Computers continue to improve because, Glaser said, “they are getting smarter because the more data that you feed it the more refined the results will become.”
As machine intelligence continue to impact business and the workplace, one concern is that AI-powered technology will be so smart, they’ll take over much of the jobs currently in the workforce. A recent PwC study found about 38 per cent of U.S. jobs are at risk of being replaced by robots.
Glaser cited travel agents as just one example. “We don’t really use travel agents anymore because we use software that can find cheap flights for us,” she said. Future developments in AI can help in many ways, she said, but there are limits.
“Things like caring for the elderly, not just helping them pick up things. We might get a robot that is able to fetch a glass of water someday,” Glaser stated.
But beyond that, “there are some things that software just will never be able to do,” she added.
“When it comes to teaching kids, of course we have software and computer programmes that can help kids learn, but (teaching) requires a certain amount of human empathy that computers won’t be able to replace.”