AI – Lifestyle Companion or Smart Work Assistant? | Tech Mahindra

AI – Lifestyle Companion or Smart Work Assistant?

It’s quite incredible how James Bond manages to get out of a big mess whenever there seems to be no end to his miseries. But somewhere in the plot, he is also privileged in getting access to many futuristic gadgets that are at his disposal. Agent 007 is bestowed with special help through these smart gadgets and as such boasts of no special powers by himself. Of course, he is smart and therefore relies on smart devices and many of those are a reality today. We see it in the form of a smart wristwatch, smart camera, touch screen and more.

We all need a little help for making our lives faster, simpler, and better. No longer a piece of fiction, personalized help and connected experiences have gone beyond Bond and entered our backyards. Technology is no longer restricted to gadgets we can hold or feel. Today, it comes imbibed in the way we get to access information today.

Let’s take the case of how we no longer depend on travel agents as we can now find cheaper flight tickets through software algorithms that sit on different websites. The next phase of convenience that we are going to experience is going to come through IoT devices, apps, bots, sensors, and ecosystems that anticipate our next move – talk to each other – and get us closer to results.

It was not a long time back that we were all so hooked on to the desktop or our laptop to do most of our computing. With the advent of smartphones, the way we choose to access information has undergone radical change. Statcounter, a research company that tracks internet use across 2.5m websites, reported in early 2016 that more than 51 percent of pages were loaded on mobile devices in October the year before, and for the first-time mobile surpassed desktop and laptop computers and so sounded the epitaph – Desktops and Laptops served mankind brilliantly, now ‘Rest in Peace’.

Riding on the smartphone wave, smartphones managed to go from less than 5 percent in 2010 to almost 25 percent in 2013. By the end of 2016, smartphones came to occupy close to 46 percent of web traffic.

Essentially, computing will transition completely from even the smartphone. As technology evolves, the future has started to point towards a whole new generation of devices that are waiting to take over. Most of them will likely be driven by Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality.

A key trend here is the emergence of wearables that we all have started to experience in some form – from fitness bands to smart garments.

Technology in the future will become more intuitive to human needs, making services swing into action even before we decide to push the button. AI makes this possible by anticipating our behavior and drawing from our past. However, it requires massive amounts of data to make software algorithms determine what we might want next.

Let’s look at activities where AI’s intuitive character is already impacting our lifestyle:

  • While shopping on Amazon, you come across suggestions showing options for a trekking gear that goes with the tent you have purchased. Your Netflix knows which movies you want to put in your bucket list.
  • Be it voice-controlled digital assistants, online ordering tools, or the next self-driving cars that are in development, AI is the brains behind the software.
  • AI plays an important role in apps by collecting information on your requests. It uses this information for a variety of reasons – a popular one is for recognizing speech to serve better results tailored for our preferences.
  • Are you aware that AI is also used for writing stories? Don’t be surprised, as whether it is Wired, AP, FOX, Yahoo, or any other news medium that you follow – chances are, they are using AI to write simple stories like sports recaps, financial summaries, fantasy sports reports, and more.

AI is going to further refine connected experiences by diving deeper into data. What we are currently achieving with the likes of Siri, Google Now, and Cortana only helps us draw useful information and relevant results through voice input instead of text. So when you say – “Where’s the nearest Mexican restaurant?”, or “What’s on my schedule today?”, or “Remind me to call Kayla at eight o’clock,” – The assistant will sort it out for you. But thanks to the infusion of data, we are soon going to have assistants filter our queries, connect with other bots, and book on our behalf.

Let’s say you are specifically looking for wood fired pizza joints that are open after 1 AM near the LA airport. The next-gen AI assistant will go beyond just fetching the right options and answers. In the future, digital assistants will know that you might require a taxi late in the night and take you closer to solving a problem.

Considering our living rooms don’t have a landline anymore, the scope for smart devices to occupy that vacuum is also immense. Both, Amazon and Google are in the race to make us install one that can tap into our contacts and make calls hands-free. The Invoke Speaker series by Harman Kardon does just that by clubbing features of an Amazon Echo with a voice-activated speaker phone that can sit in our living room.

The room for personal assistants in smart phones, homes, and smart devices, is going to get more intense with many new features expected to cross over from AI’s use case in business. Talking about business, we have just about scratched the surface of what AI can do in terms of making our workspaces smarter.

AI has already started to impact some very basic applications in our typical workday:

  • You no longer need to run from pillar to post for coordinating appointments, taking meeting notes, managing alerts, organizing files, and producing reports. Your bot does it much more efficiently.
  • The bot is also extremely efficient in managing paperwork and filing that was once managed by secretaries. In the digital age, much of the online paperwork is getting sorted by bots pivoted on AI.
  • Traditional brick-and-mortar retail is moving online in a big way. However, consumers are losing out on personal touch and the friendly face they are so used to. Here, AI-powered bots are coming to the rescue by infusing personality into online shopping.
  • AI is also making a big impact in business functions that need managing inventory levels efficiently. AI helps keep a tab on the inventory shelf, stocking it always with the right amount of goods to meet consumer needs, both online and offline.

Reports suggest that close to 76% of service organizations already use third-party resources alongside their regular workforce. Here, the use of AI is once again showing the way forward in creating a blended and adaptable workforce.

In the future, AI will be an important part of the workforce, working alongside doctors in hospitals to help them diagnose patients, while in other cases acting as financial advisors for BFSI customers. Consider this – the US market for corporate advice alone is worth $60 billion. It largely revolves around analytic skills and crunching massive amounts of structured and unstructured data. AI’s ability to collate, clean, process, and interpret data from disparate parts and its ability to produce smart spreadsheets puts it leagues ahead of the present system.

Does this mean AI is moving from consumer interface to key business decision making? It is after all not farfetched to imagine that one day the CEO will be asking a digital smart assistant – “What is my product line profitability?” or “Which customers should I target, and how?”

In the recent wake of events, two of the tech world’s most brilliant minds argued over the evolving nature of AI. While Ellon Musk believes AI needs to be controlled and regulated, Mark Zuckerberg bats for complete freedom to experiment with AI. With recently Facebook having found that it’s AI has developed its own language to speak and negotiate, the discussion on AI continues. Let’s wait and watch what’s to come next from the world of AI which will baffle us all!