Taking the Fear Factor Out of AI

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For decades, films like Space Odyssey, War Games, Terminator and The Matrix have depicted the future and what it would be like if artificial intelligence (AI) took over the world. Fast forward to 2019 and AI is quickly becoming a reality. The things we only used to see in the movies are improving our daily lives and we often don’t realize it.

We’ve been living with AI assistance for quite some time. We use Waze and Google Maps to help us predict traffic patterns and find the shortest driving routes. We let Roomba navigate our homes and keep our floors clean. We trust flight operators to use auto-pilot while in the air, so they rarely focus on anything other than takeoffs and landings.  Even our data centers are getting smarter with learning technologies that automate workload sharing, data tiering and data movement.   All these functions require AI and are providing us positive experiences. And, we are accepting them into our lives at such a rapid pace, we now are beginning to expect this level of assisted intelligence from the products and services with which we interact.

On the flip side, there are many new, broader, more fully autonomous AI applications that really get at the heart of what the sci-fi community has exploited to the point they give us the creeps. Think robot wars, big brother mass surveillance, or the extinction of the human race.  It’s human nature to fear the unknown and the fact that technology fast-tracks innovation faster than the pace that society can change continually opens technology like deep learning up to the fear mongering.  But, I recently learned first-hand that it doesn’t have to be that way with AI and that things first seen as scary or weird can quickly evolve as you see and realize the value they can bring. Once you experience value, that thing becomes normal, and like a drug you want more of it. At that point, is where there will be an obvious separation of products and services I use; those that have fully embraced the latest technology to pivot their offering (think Tesla, AirBNB, Lyft) and those that are racing to catch-up.

I recently had the opportunity to interact with Sophia the Robot – the now famous AI-powered robot known for her human-like appearance and behavior.  Using AI, visual data processing and facial recognition, Sophia can imitate human gestures and facial expressions, answer certain questions and make simple conversations on topics she has been trained on. As is the norm with AI, she has been designed to get smarter over time and gain social skills that help her interact with humans, much like other humans would.

When I first ‘met’ Sophia, it was awkward. I couldn’t stop staring at her.  But, as we conversed, and I asked her more questions, I was surprised at how quickly I adapted to her being part of our environment. In less than 24-hours, anything I had felt creepy about when first interacting with Sophia, was gone. I was referring to her as a person, making jokes with her, and conversing with her, as if it was normal. And, it was.

Watch my conversation with Sophia the Robot just a few hours after meeting her

My point being, AI is not future looking, it is already a big part of our lives.  As I learn more about the power of AI, I also want to help you, our customers, gain a better understanding of how important AI will be to your businesses. I know that by experiencing advanced AI firsthand, like I have, you will gain new perspectives on what’s possible when you turn creepy into cool to help humanity and sustain a competitive differentiation in your business.

Most recently Dell EMC been working with AI thought leaders to demystify AI with our Magic of AI series meant to showcase the ‘Art of the Possible’ with the latest machine learning and deep learning techniques.  This series uses first-hand experiences with advanced AI as your muse to help spark ideas about how techniques like video analytics, image detection, and natural language processing can be applied to your industry.  For those of you who weren’t able to join us for the inaugural event in NYC with Sophia the Robot, I’m happy to be able to share some of the digital highlights from the experience. You can watch my video interview above with Sophia or check out the highlight reel from the main event from the GMA studios in Times Square.  If you prefer the live, in-person experience, please register for our next Magic of AI event at the ABC 7 Studios in Chicago on July 23rd with Dr. Poppy Crum, Neuroscientist & Technologist.

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