Imagine you are entering your own home. At the very same moment you are observing how gradually the lights are being turned on in every room you’re entering along with the temperature that is being adjusted to your physical needs (not backward!).
You can hear quiet music that’s becoming slightly louder – it’s your favorite one. When you want, the music would disappear and you would hear natural sounds of breathing ocean or whatever you consider natural. Do you want to talk to your sister? Nothing is needed.
Get relaxed, sit in your favorite chair and wait a moment until her face appears on the screen, placed on the wall in front of you. Your laptop, you TV, your sound system, all your household devices – they work together. No control panels, no buttons, and no wires. You don’t need to control anything explicitly. You only think – and it works.
How did you feel? Or how would you feel in such a place where everything becomes synchronized with your brain? Weird, or perhaps concerned? Probably, your first moments are going to be like that but then you will just stop noticing that.
Why? Because it’s natural. The more natural things are – the less likely you pay attention to their performance. It’s not one more advertising act to attract your attention to the new smart home devices. Here I’m going only to talk with you about technology, in particular, human-like technology.
Can one consider the smart home I’ve described above as a human-like piece of technology? I definitely think so. Why? Because it emulates human way of thinking, feeling, behaving. No matter how exactly it becomes real, the person and his (her) home come to be incredibly wired together without any tangible evidence of the wires around. Isn’t it incredible? No. Incredibly natural? Most likely, it’s. And we are close to this, so close as we have never been before.
Smart houses are already available. Perhaps they are still something different from what I described. At least they are not capable of reading thoughts or brain waves yet. But they already can do a lot and they are going to improve. That’s why it all matters today. We need to understand what this human-like technology is and what it is going to yield us.
In the Season 2 of Mr.Robot series, they show how smart house gets out of control
There have been a lot of sci-fi movies and cartoons about smart houses for last twenty years. But do you know what differs in such movies that emerging nowadays? A handful features are real or are so close that we can clearly enough imagine how to make them possible.
The first example I owe to one of the most popular tech-related series – “Mr.Robot”. One of the episodes shows the smart house of the lawyer of the huge tech corporation. And it’s been hacked by few smart guys.
Later, we see her in a shock of being totally unable to control her house. Is it possible? Yes, right now. There’s nothing futuristic there. This house can be yours and it can be hacked. Here we face the first question about human-like technologies: security. We’ll be back to this question further.
But first, let’s realize what sits behind such technologies. Is it something real? I mean such real like a person who is in charge but hidden from your eyes. You know like in those services where you interact with the virtual agent along the way, however, all the crucial tasks that take place in the background are performed by humans. It makes you confused. At the same time impressed by a great performance of a service, you’re ready to cry out loud that artificial intelligence is that great and it’s right here, it has arrived.
But hold on before you do it, be sure that you’re not dealing with a lot of human assistants behind this virtual surface. So coming back to the smart house. If it’s true one, then it implies having its own intelligence.
So what about artificial intelligence? Is it really what makes technologies human-like? Sometimes, it does. Just to not leave you in possible confusion about what artificial intelligence is: nowadays AI that is accessible for the most of the developers is machine learning and other fields derived from or based on it.
From here it’s possible (quite difficult, though) to make self-learning systems. They already exist. Among the last examples are Chinese and Japanese intelligent conversational interfaces like Xiaoice and Azuma Hiraki and the new attempt of Microsoft to gain revenge after Tay – Zo.
As you see looks like a miracle here. Only plain technology. You take some algorithms and by means of them build a system, which you can further feed with a lot of inputs and make it recognize similar patterns in all of them and subsequent ones as well.
After that, you may want to make them more complicated by adding some code that can enable them to learn from further interactions by themselves or just feed them with the inputs manually. The latter is easier as you don’t need to make the system more complicated. However, it’s going to become more difficult when the number of inputs increases significantly.
Let’s start with cons. Today AI is inevitably related with two hands. Always. On one hand, we have solutions off all our problems. That’s where all the human-like technologies aim. They are not meant only to live in your smart house. But one day when AI reaches the general phase and becomes thousands of times more intelligent than human intelligence, it may help us to solve a problem of aging and dying. Or it may want to refuse to help us. Or it may want to kill us. Who knows, right? No one yet actually.
“Westworld” is HBO series about AI. Well, it’s just incredibly cool
Just recall “Westworld”, series that have become a word of a town. Westworld shows us the place where you can hardly tell apart humans and machines. One day the latter ones gain more intelligence and memory and decide to take over the power. It’s quite a classic plot where robots gain power and revenge.
But in these series, it’s brought in a very realistic way. Here and there appear articles that show how real one or another part is. Again, it’s so different from what used to be futuristic before because today we’re aware that it’s on the way to us, it’s close. However, I wanted to point at another thing. All these plots that remind each other bring us to the point that we are under threat of something way more intelligent than we are.
Therefore, looking back at the examples and gathering all the knowledge we may possess on the topic, let’s admit that the primary thing we expect from the human-like technologies is intelligence that makes possible natural interactions and helps with the problems we humans find difficult to solve by ourselves. This artificial intelligence is the core that brings the main pros and cons.
1.Save time and money
It’s something implicit that you can experience with even the simplest chatbots. Recall those ones that are run on different services. Let’s imagine that you are in search of the gift. Well, it’s 2016 and you don’t want to spend hours scrolling up and down different websites.
You want to be able to look through the options in more effective way. And you turn to one of the chatbots available on your favorite messenger. Later you realize that it was a good decision as it’s helped you to find what fits in a record time by asking a set of questions to figure out your preferences. Of course, some of the chatbots like this one may work not that perfect.
So once it may appear helpful and other time you may find it useless. It’s okay some of them are more complicated and, therefore, they work with higher efficiency whereas other ones are still based on pretty straightforward logic without any real intelligence.
Now think about chatbots and conversational interfaces from the perspective of the company’s owner. Imagine your company provides travel services. You receive tons of questions from the customers who, instead of plunging into the depth of information on your website, try to save their time by contacting you directly.
Therefore, you need a lot of assistants to be able to answer these questions. Moreover, you need to pay all of them. Instead, you can save a lot of money by paying developers once (or twice) for the creation of smart virtual assistant that is able to help all of your consumers at the same time (god, save multithreading).
2.Make things simple and intuitively understandable for people of all the ages and backgrounds
Nadine with Prof Nadia Thalmann
Do we want to make things more complicated? Of course, not. But what if the things we are into inevitably become more complicated? Then, we are trying to make them simple on the surface, in other words – to make the user interface easy regardless how difficult the things are in the background.
Today we often use the word “intuitive” when talking about UI to highlight how important is to make everything work so naturally that everyone from our children to our parents can be able to find the solution (of how to use, for instance, an app) in the shortest period of time.
Easy-understandable UI is a key to success of any application (either web or mobile). And human-like technologies are meant to have the most natural UI so we can interact we them just like we do it with other people – by means of talk, chat, and visuals.
It can make a lot of things that used to be unavailable for physically restrained people accessible. Moreover, it opens a lot of incredible possibilities for the fields like education and healthcare, which are the core of every society.
1.Can take over a significant part of the job market and therefore leave the certain type of employees without of work
We shouldn’t underestimate this condition as it’s already happening here and there as the machines are starting to gradually replace humans with more efficiency and fewer costs. From one point of view, it’s an advantage but it has a lot of consequences for the economy we have never experienced before. That’s why to avoid possible disaster when a lot of people can be left without work we need to be prepared.
For example with such experiments like the one that is held in the part of Finland where people receive basic income without the real need to work. This experiment (check it here) is meant to figure out how possible it is to maintain healthy society at such conditions.
2.The uncertainty that comes together with AI
When human-like technologies are getting smarter, it’s an advantage. But when they become thousands of times smarter than humans are, then along with the advantageous side we can find ourselves in difficult and even risky situations due to the lack of possibility to appear one step forward.
It’s natural that we aren’t sure how exactly we have to deal with AI as it’s something we have no preceding experience with. Therefore, there’s a huge uncertainty behind the way it may behave. We can even appear under the threat of the end of the human era. That’s why here we come back the importance of strong security side we have touched before.
In other words, we need to focus on the development of strong security terms with the regard of all possible negative scenarios and conditions. Besides, we may want to look for the ways of how to protect ourselves from different risks. All this implies a lot of strategical steps to take right now.
Now, it’s up to you whether to focus on the possible threats or to benefit from the incredible era of human-like technology we are entering now. But before you decide which way to take let me remind you about one person.
Do you know that before Elon Musk launched Paypal he had been thinking about which way to take? Long-long time ago he decided that AI is something unclear and most likely won’t yield him a lot of word of mouth. Later on, in 2014 he shared his fears. He told about the huge amount of threats AI is going to yield us. And do you know what has happened in 2016? He launched his own AI company. Well, he kept the beaten road. If you are afraid of something, become a part of it.