Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are everywhere; this short tale aims to demonstrate why you should care and why you should be looking into the opportunities they offer.
The working day was over, I let out a sigh of relief before heading for the exit. (Remember when we used to be able to go into the office every day and see our colleagues?)
As usual, I strutted towards the car, a veritable hub of technology. That is not to say that it is the only option for interacting with AI on the way home, there are plenty of others, so we’ll take a quick detour to keep the story inclusive.
Popular ride-hailing apps will be using machine learning and AI to route the best driver to you, to calculate the fare and to generally make their service usable. There will be other similar technologies in place for predicting when your bus or train may arrive, some more advanced than others. (And, as you can experience, not all the technologies are perfect yet).
Maybe you will walk home, but even so, there are opportunities. If you're anything like me, the first thing you'll do is put in your earphones to drown out the traffic's incessant buzz; a song an escape to. Music streaming services will generate personal recommendations and playlists through different machine learning algorithms, based on what you have listened to before. They do this to give you a more personalised experience, and this is a crucial use of AI across many sectors. There is no escaping it, and why would you want to?
Back to the car. Your mind may instantly soar off in the direction of self-driving cars and other top-of-the-range, glittery, futuristic vehicles, filled to the brim with funky gadgets. Still, even an average second-hand car can have its fancy gizmos. The obvious one is the navigation system, be it a satnav, phone or whatever. This will use AI to plot your route while considering the traffic and predicting an estimated journey time. There will be other driving aids, parking tools and various technologies in newer cars to give you the best experience and reduce human error. See how much I have already used, just by leaving a building?
There are more modest use cases that are often overlooked. When you get home weary and wanting to relax, what might you do?
Maybe like me, you might get some food, sit back, put some rubbish TV show on and scroll through your phone. Now hold your horses, I do not have enough fingers to count how many times I have interacted with AI in that simple process. Streaming services will recommend shows, websites will display targeted ads, other sites might have a personalised homepage or chatbots to question, chatbots everywhere, social media will display what it thinks you want to see on your feed, and your email provider will automatically detect junk emails and take them away from your inbox. Maybe you will unlock your phone using facial recognition or talk to your smart device, perhaps you'll take a selfie and add filters, it's even hiding in your predictive text and autocorrect. This is just a quick insight, and there is more to be discovered behind the scenes.
After recovering from the day, I will go out and do some exercise, a stress release, a chance to define the transition from work to home. This is another chance for products bursting with AI to flourish: devices monitoring your performance, linked to apps or other platforms to give you feedback and real-time coaching or analysis of your performance. This is just scraping the surface of what is available to you, and maybe you do not use any it, but the options are there and they are getting better.
Even making purchases digitally has AI and machine learning running behind the scenes. Banks use algorithms for fraud detection, watching out for any unusual or suspicious purchases with your account to help keep your funds secure. It also comes into play with general cybersecurity to test systems for weaknesses; the use cases are wide-ranging.
The only place I avoid AI is my bed, when the day is over, switching off all electronic devices as I unplug from the world, resting. (Disclaimer - sometimes I dream of electric sheep.)
At the end of the day, AI and machine learning algorithms are everywhere, creeping into every aspect of our lives, whether you realise it or not. It gives customers a better experience; it is there to protect your security from evolving threats. It is there to market products, learn about what the market wants, and learn more about your business to keep you ahead of the tide. It is there and it is becoming integral to everyday life. Companies must evolve or die. *drops mic*.
If you want to learn more about what is available and how you can apply AI to your business using Azure, we run free 'Azure Immersion' workshops. You can see the upcoming schedule in our events calendar.