Image by: thehorriblejoke
By Josie Alexander
How many of you use Siri? How about Cordana (from Microsoft)? Does anyone out there use Google Now? These are all examples of how AI (artificial intelligence) has sneaked into our homes – albeit, willingly let in by us, but still… The idea of having a computer set up all of your meetings for the day is an interesting concept. We can now be free to worry about other things: like how to get spaghetti stains out of a white T-shirt.
Let’s be honest though. All we have to do is ask Siri and she’ll let you know.
These AI personal assistants are fun to use. They sometimes show some human traits (like humor) but all of those can be inputted by the craziness that is, the internet (“Internet search indicates that…”) or also, the funny people that work behind the scenes:
Image by: Craighton Miller
There are a few things that these “smart” assistants can’t do though. Let’s go over some of those things and also, what two digital assistant services are doing about it.
#1) They Don’t Poke At Your Brain
While Siri and Cordana can suggest ideas for restaurants based on your location, they can’t suggest what you might like based on your preferences unless you enter that information yourself. They can set reminders for appointments but they can’t actually schedule those appointments themselves. They can’t actually buy flowers for you and have it delivered to your mom’s work (but they can remind you that her birthday is tomorrow).
These limitations are quite evident when we talk about AI’s. There is a bit of comfort knowing that we still have some secrets. However, it would be nice for them to be able to have that option. Right?
#2) They Don’t Like Tedious Work
Cordana (which Microsoft had named after the AI in the Halo franchise), is meant to act like a secretary. Unfortunately for you, this secretary won’t quietly do all of that tedious work that you don’t want to do. If you’re already indecisive, she won’t pick out a restaurant for you based on you and your husband’s taste in food.
When searching for a café on Yelp, you have to search for quite a while to find something that fits all of your needs: kid friendly, free WiFi, decent coffee, outdoor patio, etc, etc. AI’s won’t be able to make the decision for you so if you’re indecisive, you’re up a creek. The boring trivial tasks can be done by AI’s but you still have to input all of that info yourself and weed through the options that they gave you.
#3) They Will Eventually Pick This Up
If the research keeps advancing at the rate that it has been, AI’s will be able to do these things soon. However, for the time being, they are limited in their capacity to handle tangible tasks.
Japanese researchers and scientists have developed a robot (or actually a few) which looks and feels like a regular person. Their purpose is to keep residents and patients company at hospitals and nursing homes. Constant interaction has proven to be a great asset to helping heal and comfort those who need it.
These robots are both interesting and a bit frightening at the same time. Not because we’re on the verge of “Terminator”-status but because more and more robots are taking the place of people.
#4) Fancy Hands and Jarvis
There are two digital assistant companies that are doing something about those hindrances when it comes to AI’s.
These two companies provide virtual assistants instead of just AI’s. So instead of a robot or a computer, you get an actual person. Ask Jarvis to deliver pizza home for dinner so that you don’t have to cook and he’ll answer back with,
“I can have a large delivered to your house at 7PM. What kind of pizza would you prefer? Hawaiian or pepperoni? Would you like extra breadsticks?”
It’s called “Task Rabbit” and it sends the task to a college-educated worker sitting at the computer somewhere.
#5) The Future is Nigh
So what does this mean for you? Will robots take your job? The answer is a comforting “no”. Well, for most jobs, you are safe. You offer personality differences (mainly because AI’s don’t have personalities on their own) and personalized touches that they aren’t able to do. But the haunting question does remain: science fiction is no longer “fiction”, is it?
Now it’s your turn. Do you use a digital assistant? What do you think of AI’s being able to sort through your stuff and come up with helpful suggestions for you? Suggestions that are catered to your preferences? Are you more or less comfortable with an AI doing that sorting over actual people? How do you feel about having your phone tell you to leave 15 minutes early because of traffic? Got an opinion on the topic? Let us know what you’re thinking by putting your ideas and questions in the comment section below.