Tech corner

An insight into the latest developments in artificial intelligence

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As we move further into the 21st century, technology is continuing to improve and develop in millions of different ways, and in some cases, creep more and more into Back to the Future territory.

As we move further into the 21st century, technology is continuing to improve and develop in millions of different ways, and in some cases, creep more and more into Back to the Future territory.

From fridges than can tell you how much food you’ve got left and order for you, to cars that know more about your commutes than you do, it’s safe to say that artificial intelligence is reaching new heights every day.

Robots and androids seem to have had a lot of time in the spotlight recently when it comes to entertainment. With TV shows like Humans and video games such as Detroit: Become Human portraying them as machines that have the capability to become sentient and, in some cases, turn against us, it’s only natural that some people are wary of how far technology is coming along.

One particular robot that has been in the media fairly often in the last couple of years is Sophia. She’s a social humanoid robot developed by Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics, who are best known for their development of humanlike robots with artificial intelligence for consumer, entertainment, service, healthcare and research applications.

Sophia is fitted with cameras in her eyes, combined with computer algorithms that allow her to see, meaning she has the ability to follow faces, sustain eye contact and recognise individuals. She’s also able to process speech and engage in conversation using a natural language subsystem, and in January she was upgraded with fully functional legs, granting her the ability to walk.

Believe it or not, last year Sophia received citizenship from Saudi Arabia, making her the first ever robot to be given legal personhood anywhere in the world.

If humanoid robot assistants are too Prometheus for your liking, there are less extreme ways to invite an AI presence into your domestic life, with devices like Amazon Echo or Google Home. AI is the technology that enables these items to answer questions, give recommendations, provide entertainment, control smart homes and more.

The ability to recognise a user’s identity via advanced voice recognition and personal preferences has hugely enhanced marketing techniques and uncovered yet another application for AI. In 2016, Google Assistant went up against Amazon Alexa on the market, and Apple soon got in on the action with competing model HomePod, released in February this year.

All of these products have increased consumer familiarity with conversational interfaces powered by artificial intelligence, meaning that ordinary people as well as corporations can now use AI to help improve their daily lives.

One of the greatest worries when it comes to advanced technology is what it means for employment. Many people fear that an increase in AI presence will eventually lead to mass lay-offs. However, many companies are coming to view artificial intelligence as a creator of (rather than a threat to) jobs and general livelihood.

Though it’s likely that many jobs will be replaced by automated technology, there has been a growing recognition that AI also creates employment opportunities that weren’t there before. Employers are increasingly on the lookout for coders, programmers and technicians to monitor and maintain complex, artificially intelligent systems, giving people in these professions brand new and exciting opportunities to show off their skills.

With all of these changes taking place, don’t be surprised if the world looks a little more like The Jetsons sooner than expected.

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