More than you probably think...
You might have noticed lot of excitement around AI at the moment, with the likes of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon all vying to be the loudest voice promoting the newest buzzword. In some cases it is even being heralded as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. With AI-powered Go and chess champions, it seems like ‘the singularity’ is fast approaching.
Even Apple’s recent WWDC keynotes saw software chief Craig Federighi casually announce new Core ML APIs aimed at attracting AI-conscious coders, APIs that will increase the use of things like facial recognition and semantic text cognition in future Apple products.
To be clear though, AI isn’t quite yet the stuff of science fiction - although SkyNet may actually exist, what we have today doesn’t resemble the Terminators, or even 2001: A Space Odyssey’s Hal, luckily for us all.
What we do have is machine learning and neural networks that can be ‘trained’ with vast data inputs to recognise patterns and draw parallels in specific areas, but these systems almost always operate in conjunction with a human operator, rather than solo and sentient. Full Hollywood-style robot AI that can relate to any human experience is some way off, but there is plenty of it in development, advancing all the time, and in places you might not automatically expect.
Your health and fitness
With surgeons set to lose their jobs in 37 years, it’s not surprising that health and fitness should be the subject of considerable AI R&D.
In the UK, a company called Babylon Health is trialling an AI-powered app until July 2017 in collaboration with the NHS. Users can submit their symptoms to the app to receive a recommended course of action, based on data from a combination of algorithms, clinicians and data analytics. The average time to complete an interaction on the slightly-ominously named Babylon is 12 minutes, considerably better than listening to the hold music on the NHS 112 dial in number.
On a more serious note, a company called Medtronic is using IBM’s Watson AI platform to develop what they claim to be the first ‘cognitive app’, Sugar.IQ, for diabetes sufferers. The app can apparently predict diabetic events three to four hours before they happen, with a 75% to 86% accuracy rate, according to a study by F5 Networks.
Overall, it’s fair to say that while full-fat AI is still some way off in the future, that’s lucky for us humans, as we’re clearly not quite ready to deal with the repercussions yet.
Jason Alan Snyder, Chief Technology Officer, Momentum Worldwide said: “The main concern of beneficial-AI is with intelligence: specifically, intelligence whose goals are misaligned with ours. Misaligned superhuman intelligence requires just an Internet connection to outsmart financial markets, out-invent human researchers, out-manipulate human leaders, and develop weapons we cannot begin to understand. So a super-intelligent and super-wealthy AI could easily pay or manipulate humans to unwittingly do its bidding.
“The Hollywood-style robot fantasy is part of the myth that machines can’t control humans. Intelligence enables control: humans control lions not because we are stronger, but because we are smarter. This means that if we cede our position as smartest on our planet, it’s possible that we might also cede control.”
Maybe that deep-seated fear of the robots taking over might be justified. Maybe.