Last month we covered the basics of AI and what it is in theory. Today we will talk more about the existing practical applications of AI and reflect on what that means to us. We will also share some caution about AI, which, similar to IoT does not have existing laws to follow due to the speed of its development. It is a fact that there is no real regulation on IoT products today and there are cases filed against familiar brands like Bose. Last month I bought my team Google home minis to inspire a culture of innovation. Sometimes I wonder… what exactly did I buy them?
Currently, one of the most impressive real expressions of AI is the voice-generating AI that is indistinguishable from humans. Now that is a real capability that can generate significant efficiencies in call centers (given that you have the clean data and the cloud enabled applications to power the “brain” of the AI).
The AI voice re-imagines the how of the interactive component of the customer experience. The innovation part is that, to the customer, there is no real change in the emotions they experience during the call. The customer still hears a friendly female voice. This AI application does to the call center what the touch screen did for cell phones in 2007.
Keep in mind that as you converse with the friendly female voice, the AI that powers it is learning – it is getting smarter and smarter. The question is how smart can AI get. A better question, how smart do humans want AI to get? We all have heard the story of Frankenstein. If we are not careful, we might build our own replacement.
If you think I am exaggerating, listen to Elon Musk who has been cautioning us against AI for years. “I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that… I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish.” We should most certainly embrace the future. However, we need to make sure we keep the control. With regulation and legal framework speed we might build the guardrails too late. Let’s also not forget that the master computer voice in Terminator, like those used in call centers, was female. I wonder if that is just a coincidence….
AI is not capable only of generating voice. It is able to “read” and to analyze human voices in a manner we have never seen. The term for this is “voice profiling.” Apparently, humans cannot detect the data/information in our voices the way AI software can. So the next time your bank asks you if you consent to record your voice for “additional security” on your account, think twice (too late for me… the TD Bank AI already has filed me away). The advancement went as far as creating a face to the voice in December. “Your voice is like your DNA or your fingerprint.” according to Rita Singh. Thanks to today’s advanced algorithms and the large computing power available, our DNA is out in the digital space, ready to be “profiled.”
The reach of AI goes beyond customer service and personal banking. AI is now making hiring decisions today. Companies use AI technologies to shift through the large volume of online resumes they receive. Ostensibly, AI creates a leveled ground for all candidates and alleviates existing biases during interviews. An industry has emerged predicting either candidates’ skills based on online clues in the case of Fama or on their actions through Entelo that “guestimates” who is likely to leave a job. The situation gets creepier when we start talking about companies like HireVue. On the surface, HireVue’s solutions sound innovative – “databased, unbiased talent decisions.” In reality, HireVue has the potential to read our faces when we speak and determine whether we are not truthful. No more saying at an interview you are leaving your current employer to pursue further development. HireVue will know you did not get along with your boss, or that you hate banking. A world in which we cannot have our internal lives sounds like a scary and lonely place.
What is next for the brave new world? According to the cofounder and CEO of Nvidia Huang it is “… the ability for artificial intelligence to write artificial intelligence by itself.” In other words humans will no longer be needed or even capable of running the new technology since it will be beyond our capacity to comprehend or manage. I don’t want to go back to Terminator and the Transformers, but it is hard not to see the resemblance in the plots. On the bright side, one can make a fortune in the next decade investing in those underlying technologies that will be running themselves or us in the future. This is how Huang made his fortune. We can always follow in his footsteps.