From Google's Arts & Culture App--which uses facial recognition technology to match selfies to thousands of artworks--to Pizza Hut's plans for driverless pizza delivery. The application of Artificial Intelligence to improve the customer experience is on the rise. In fact, this year the Consumer Electronic Show featured its first ever Artificial Intelligence Marketplace to showcase the latest innovations designed to perform human tasks. Products ranged from big data analytics to speech recognition to advanced decision-making to predictive technology. Many of these solutions are already being leveraged by great companies to add a magic touch to their services.
Warning: spoilers ahead for Netflix's Lost in Space. In the first episode of Netflix's new Lost in Space, Will Robinson (Maxwell Jenkins) discovers a robot (Brian Steele) and saves it from a spreading forest fire. As a result, it seems to imprint upon him, following him around and obeying him like a loyal pet.
More than 90 years ago, one of the first onscreen depictions of an android made her debut. The Maschinenmensch, otherwise known as "Maria," terrified audiences at showings of sci-fi masterpiece Metropolis. The year was 1927, and the futuristic idea of an evil robot disguising itself as a human was distant -- a fantasy, but no less chilling. Maria played on very human fears: being controlled by that which we control, being deceived, and most importantly, being replaced. She represented a future that was bleak and scary, and though it made for an excellent film, no audience member wanted it to become a reality.
If you've bought anything online recently, chances are you've experienced something like this: You visit a store's website to buy a sci-fi movie. The website makes recommendations of other movies for you to purchase. The next day, you get a follow-up email recommending other similar movies, and even some similar books. Intrigued by one of the books on the list, you decide to buy it as well. All of those recommendations are powered by artificial intelligence.
The slow war against AI-powered, face-swapping pornography continues. The Screen Actors Guild, the labor union representing the biggest names in film and television, says it's "fighting back" against deepfakes, videos that superimpose actors' faces onto the bodies of porn stars. SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris wrote the following in the group's monthly magazine, as spotted by Deadline: "We are closely watching the development of so-called deepfakes. This artificial intelligence tool has the ability to steal our images and superimpose them onto another person's body in potentially unpleasant and inappropriate digital forms. SAG-AFTRA is focused on these emerging processes and fighting back when the technology infringes on our members' rights."
Humans don't start their thinking from scratch every second. As you read this essay, you understand each word based on your understanding of previous words. You don't throw everything away and start thinking from scratch again. Traditional neural networks can't do this, and it seems like a major shortcoming. For example, imagine you want to classify what kind of event is happening at every point in a movie. It's unclear how a traditional neural network could use its reasoning about previous events in the film to inform later ones.
In Pixar's WALL-E, oversized humans recline on levitating barcaloungers and are dressed, primped, polished, and served, entirely by robots. Look no further than the public debut of Amazon Go, the company's first cashierless store. Digital imaging technology monitors which items shoppers select from shelves, and when a customer leaves the store, the person's online account is automatically charged. Down the road in Santa Clara, California, room service robots are being designed that can navigate a hotel's floor plan and interact digitally with its elevator and phone systems to deliver towels and beverages to guests. Various Silicon Valley startups have deployed robots that make pizzas, craft salads, and assemble artistic bistro sandwiches.
Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos tours the facility at the grand opening of the Amazon Spheres in Seattle on Jan. 29, 2018. Amazon's Jeff Bezos said it counts more than 100 million paying members for Amazon Prime, the delivery and content business that's at the heart of its sales growth. The CEO and founder, in his annual letter to shareholders, said last year more members joined Prime than in any previous year. Prime subscribers spend a lot more on Amazon -- $1,300 per year on average -- compared to about $700 for non-Prime members, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. "One thing I love about customers is that they are divinely discontent. Their expectations are never static – they go up," said Bezos. We didn't ascend from our hunter-gatherer days by being satisfied. People have a voracious appetite for a better way, and yesterday's'wow' quickly becomes today's'ordinary'. I see that cycle of improvement happening at a faster rate than ever before. It may be because customers have such easy access to more information than ever before – in only a few seconds and with a couple taps on their phones, customers can read reviews, compare prices from multiple retailers, see whether something's in stock, find out how fast it will ship or be available for pick-up, and more. These examples are from retail, but I sense that the same customer empowerment phenomenon is happening broadly across everything we do at Amazon and most other industries as well.
If it's started to feel like all summer blockbuster movies are being written by robots [INSERT FORMER PRO WRESTLER, INSERT GIANT CGI ANIMAL], you'll be disquieted to learn that that future may not be too far off. The meditation app Calm teamed up with the tech team at Botnik to write a new Brothers Grimm-style fairy tale entirely through artificial intelligence. By inputting the data from existing Brothers Grimm stories and using predictive text technology (and with a few human writers stitching things together), the group at Botnik crafted "The Princess and the Fox," a story about "a talking fox [who] helps the lowly miller's son to rescue the beautiful princess from the fate of having to marry a dreadful prince who she does not love." "We're doing for the Brothers Grimm what Jurassic Park did for dinosaurs," says Michael Acton Smith, co-founder of Calm, in a press press release. "We're bringing them back from the dead, with modern science."
It's Saturday night and you've just finished watching the last episode of a Swedish crime drama that you somehow stumbled upon, although you can't quite remember how. It's late and probably time for bed, but--without prompting--your Netflix screen fills with promotional shots for more shows. There's one about a female detective in Denmark and another about a British inspector who weaves between both sides of the law. It's a familiar scenario to any Netflix watcher--when the service seems to magically suggest programs that fit your latest pop-culture craze. These days, the computer algorithms that allow Netflix or Amazon to make purchasing suggestions are a normal part of life.