By now, we’ve all heard or seen the doomsday predictions of evil robots taking over the world. From tech billionaire Elon Musk to Stephen Hawking have warned of a dark future with artificial intelligence. But not all AI is bad for humans.
Here are four ways that artificial intelligence robots are helping humanity today and should continue to do so as technology advances.
PERSONAL LIFESTYLE COACH
The lifespan gap between the richest 1% and poorest 1% has widened almost three years since 2001. Wealthier men now live 15 years longer than their poor counterparts. The gap is 10 years for women.
Many factors contribute to this widening gap – access to better nutrition, healthcare, and more education on harmful and beneficial behaviors (like smoking and exercise). Wealthier people also often benefit from a support team – chefs, personal trainers, doctors, nutritionists – to motivate and inspire them to positive lifestyle choices. What if everyone had access to a team like that?
Artificial intelligence and other technologies are bringing wellness and self-care coaching to a broader audience. Through smartphone apps, telemedicine, fitness trackers, and other tech, healthcare is being revolutionized and democratized like never before.
One example, the Yoo-Mi assistant, uses AI to “understand and empathize” with individuals, customizing information, motivation and guidance to a person’s unique psychological make-up. The goal is to be the support team for everyone, regardless of income, and help people live longer, healthier lives.
HELPING KIDS LEARN TO CODE
Tech educators are using virtual programmable robots to teach kids the fundamentals of software coding. After introducing them to basic concepts of writing commands, the folks at Free Code Camp hold tournaments where teams of kid coders compete against each other and their robots.
The kids who participate have the freedom to create robots that can do different tasks, like mining for resources or finding and fighting other robots. And they use creative problem solving to use those robots to accomplish objectives set by the camp staff.
Once they have learned coding principles, Camp educators create new challenges – like creating a new alarm clock and other real-world scenarios.
“When we gave kids the task to create a new alarm clock, they came up with some very creative solutions,” said Tim Großmann. “Many of which would appear really weird, at least to us.”
“There were many times when I thought I couldn’t have come up with their solutions,” he added.
HELP PREVENT EMOTIONAL BURNOUT
We can think of physically-demanding jobs: construction worker, landscaper, firefighter. But other professions are more demanding emotionally and can cause workers to suffer from burnout.
Professions like customer service representatives, flight attendants, doctors, nurses, school teachers, and hotel employees require the suppression of true emotions for the sake of the job. In many cases, these professions mean taking verbal or emotional abuse from the people they serve without responding in kind or venting their frustrations. Over time, this can be extremely draining.
Technology, and specifically artificial intelligence robots, can help ease the daily burden professionals in these careers face in two ways. First, chatbots and other AI platforms can act as the first line of customer service. Second, virtual therapists or companions can give professionals an emotional outlet.
“In the future, robots may serve in a variety of support roles, such as home assistance, office support, nursing, childcare, education, and elder care,” said psychologist Gurit Birnbaum.
Many experiments, including ones made by psychologists like Birnbaum, have shown humans are open to making emotional connections with robots — both as customers seeking help and exhausted service professionals looking for support.
“Anywhere you have people doing emotional labor, there could be a potential for this technology to serve that role without incurring the negative effects on a worker’s health,” said computer scientist Jonathan Gratch.
SPEEDS UP MOVIE MAKING
The movie makers at Disney’s Pixar have a tapped into the power of AI to lighten their animation loads. Even with the help of modern technology and rows of powerful computer servers, some scenes can take hundreds of thousands of hours and films years to finish.
Researchers at three organizations partnered to develop new deep learning artificial intelligence technology to improve frame quality. Using millions of images from 2016 film “Finding Dory,” the team trained the tech to recognize and sharpen fuzzy, grainy (“noisy”) images.
“Other approaches for removing image noise have grown increasingly complex, with diminishing returns,” said Markus Gross, vice president for research at Disney Research. “By leveraging deep learning, this work presents an important step forward for removing undesirable artifacts from animated films.”
The AI algorithm allows artists to quickly and automatically remove noise, while making sure they keep scene detail. Disney and Pixar plan to use the technology in their upcoming films to shorten the movie-making timeframe. In a bid to continue to the forward push of research, they are even making the code available to the research community.
MAKE ROBOTS WORK FOR YOU
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