"She," in this case, is an avatar created by IPsoft, the global information technology services company. In a demo shown to Tech Insider, she shifts her weight from side to side when waiting for someone to speak, and smiles in between questions. If you tell her you're upset about something, she'll frown in empathy. If all goes according to plan, Amelia will be the customer service agent of the future, an "employee" who can field customer support questions for people without needing to bringing a human in. IPsoft solutions manager Benjamin Case tells Tech Insider that these low-level tasks are remarkably consistent across industries.
Long before we kneel to our robot overlords, AI tools will help schedule meetings and perform research for busy business professionals. Sustaining a positive work-life balance has become increasingly more challenging in today's technology-driven business environment. Automation technology thrives in environments traditionally considered laborious and time consuming – time better spent on tasks that make money, instead of wasting it. Time spent manually entering tasks, calendar items, and typing up emails on smartphones, in particular for those of you, like myself, blessed with sausage fingers, quickly became more hassle than it was worth. This process became especially irritating for business pros that are constantly on the move and rely, almost exclusively, on the features and functionality of their smart devices.
Earlier this month Zanzi's Jayne Reddyhoff spoke at the world's first global Social Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) conference at Oxford Brookes University, and it got us thinking… How can online businesses embrace AI and use it to their advantage? It's easy to feel threatened by the impending invasion of "robots" in the workplace, hijacking our jobs, and upending "traditional" human interactions expected at work. But guess what folks… robots are already here, and it's not all that bad. Embracing robotics in the workplace doesn't necessarily mean putting R2-D2 on the payroll. Instead social robotics, by which we mean incorporating "big data" or machine learning into business-as-usual, can begin to help us with the tasks mere mortals just aren't good at, thus freeing us up to do the more creative and challenging tasks.
The South By Southwest (SXSW) festival is a whirlwind best described as "trying to drink from a firehose". There is so much happening at any one moment you have a real fear of missing out. Even though this was my third visit, the challenge of navigating the schedule to ensure you find the gems while making time to meet some of the most brilliant minds in tech, digital and content creation can be overwhelming. Robotics is moving at a rapid pace but still the sheer oddness and impracticality of what I saw was at times astounding. The best example for me was presented by Japanese Communication giant NTTS's Dr Higashinaka and roboticist Dr Ishiguro who have built life-sized robotic humanoid models that can have basic conversations with humans.
Tech giants are in a race to see who can build the most powerful voice-activated assistant, but there's a side effect that we haven't considered: Kids who grow up asking Amazon's Alexa questions or summoning Siri might lose some social skills. What if artificial intelligence changes the way we talk? Experts in robotics, machine learning, and AI descended on Austin for South by Southwest this week, and the biggest questions were lifted straight from the film Her. Is it changing the way we interact with each other? Will kids think they can order around their friends the same way they tell Alexa to tell them a joke?