A Smarter Species: Artificial Intelligence

  • Commerce

2016 was undeniably the year of chatbots, as they became a customer service advantage for many brands big and small. The ubiquity of chatbots, and every other sort of bot for that matter, has unfortunately rendered AI-powered devices nearly indistinguishable from one another. In essence, machine learning is the ability for bots to take in and analyze from past data, learn from it, and then use this encoded information to guide smarter future action. The enhancement of emotionally intelligent machine-learning capabilities is widely considered to be the differentiating factor between the true AI innovators and those who are merely following the trend.

Machine learning has already seen great success with NuTonomy, a software company in Singapore. In August 2016, NuTonomy launched the world’s first network of driverless taxis, and only one month later, Uber followed suit by piloting its own machine learning-powered cars in Pittsburgh. However, machine learning technology has extended far beyond the automotive industry with The Not Company, a start-up from Chile, which created an algorithm to analyze various foods on a molecular level and predict plant-based alternatives.

But perhaps most notably, machine learning epically made history when a supercomputer built by DeepMind defeated a human Go master. The ancient Chinese board game is known to be the world’s most difficult, and only two years ago, Wired stated that “of all the world’s deterministic perfect information games… Go is the only one in which computers don’t stand a chance against humans.”

2017 is already shaping up to be the one in which bots will reach new levels of humanity and cognitive ability. AI products are now even being designed to feel like part of the family. For example, a former Pixar animator designed Kuri, an AI companion first, assistant second. This buddy robot lives in the home, answers voice commands and completes various IFTTT tasks. Kuri communicates through sounds, movement and facial expressions in lieu of words. Increasingly advanced algorithms, like that of Kuri, are allowing this type of machine learning development to democratize many AI experiences, and are only expected to become more widespread.

As the unexpected is becoming the new norm, and as people are gaining interest in AI technology, brands have a responsibility to maximize the enhanced data and technology that it provides them. The AI category is ever more competitive, with bots and humans blurring together, and brands that utilize machine learning to create more value for people will be leagues above bots that have lower levels of emotional intelligence.