As artificial intelligence continues to be the toast of the town in the tech world, it is difficult to not think about the repercussions of our creations. The reality is artificial intelligence is reaching the point where it is becoming very possible to steal jobs from humans. Thankfully, the jobs artificial intelligence is stealing is leading to the freeing up of more important tasks for humans.
For many, the thought of the Terminator films coming to life is horrific. This is made evident in the latest episode of HBO’s Silicon Valley. In the episode titled “Daily Active Users,” Pied Piper CEO Richard Hendricks explains to a focus group how the company’s platform that consists of a top-tier compression algorithm will be able to learn on its own. As a result, this sends the group into a Terminator-fueled hysteria.
When discussing what the future holds for artificial intelligence with one of the classes at devCodeCamp, I found myself in a similar situation. The idea of artificial intelligence making human lives easier is comforting. However, machines learning on their own to the point where teaching other machines how to accomplish tasks becomes very possible is where the conversation gets a little nerve-racking.
For now, it is more encouraging to think about how artificial intelligence, and more specifically IBM’s Watson, will free up humans to spend their time more productively.
Connie, the Hilton concierge robot
In the case of Connie, a Hilton concierge robot powered by Watson, it does just that. Connie works at the Hilton McLean hotel in Virginia, where the robot answers the questions of hotel guests. It does not matter if it is directions to a restaurant, what sporting events are in the area, or what fun events are taking place in the city. Connie will instantaneously find the answer to the question by searching through various forms of unstructured data. Watson learns from each interaction in order to better answer questions in the future.
At first glance it seems Connie was created to replace the Hilton McLean hotel concierge. On the contrary, instead of answering quite possibly the same questions day after day, the human working as the hotel concierge can now focus on higher level tasks that can support the hotel in its daily business operations.
Meeka, the wedding planning virtual assistant
Mecasei, a Brazilian startup that focuses on planning weddings, created the first virtual assistant wedding planner. Meeka, which was built with Watson APIs, interacts with clients to help them ensure their special day is perfect. Meeka manages wedding budgets, refines guest lists, and ensures all the suppliers are available, among other things. More importantly, Meeka will provide all the necessary information in one place. The employees at Mecasei can look to finding more clients while Meeka goes through the actual wedding planning process.
There is a level of concern surrounding artificial intelligence. But, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic for what the future holds.