From fantasy to reality: Misunderstanding the impact of AI

From fantasy to reality: Misunderstanding the impact of AI Rachel Roumeliotis is vice president of data and AI at O’Reilly.

The prominence of artificial intelligence (AI) has significantly grown in pop culture and science fiction over the years. It has speculated on how AI can change people’s lives, the places we live and our day-to-day activities. However, despite the increase of AI in popular films such as I, Robot, Star Trek and WALL-E, it’s continued depiction and futuristic tendencies throughout the years have altered individual perceptions about the true meaning of AI and how it is already playing a vital part in our everyday lives.

A recent survey conducted by O’Reilly paints this exact picture. It gives AI-creators an in-depth look at how consumers identify and use AI technology, showcasing the heightened misunderstanding that consumers have of AI and its use.

AI takes over popular culture

Television and the big screen have played a large role in introducing AI into our homes, but how does this depiction impact how we develop and implement the technology?

For those working to incorporate AI technology into products and develop new ways to use it, robots and cars are not an everyday focus. The areas of advancement instead look at AI that learns from our actions to more efficiently help us in our day-to-day lives, answering questions for us and completing tasks through speech recognition and language processing at work and at home.

But how do we harness the excitement around the fantasy of AI to increase everyday adoption?

The true potential of AI

One of the best ways to merge the fantasy and reality of AI is to truly understand what consumers think and what they believe is the potential of the technology.

In our survey, when asked what the most useful form of AI is, more than half (58%) of consumers regarded smart home technology as the most vital. This was closely followed by home security systems (54%), travel recommendations (52%), and virtual assistants (50%). This provides insight into how AI creators can expand their ideas of where AI can be useful to encourage consumers to adopt it in their personal lives.

While AI is already present in our homes—thanks to smart speakers from Amazon, Apple and Google—more and more consumer groups appreciate the success of smart home technology and are willing to adopt it in the future.

Answering the questions: What is AI? And why should I care?

Survey respondents were also asked what application of AI excited them the most in the future. Fraud detection (28%) topped the list as the most exciting area for AI development.

It was the most commonly cited use by men. This is despite only 11% of consumers closely associating fraud detection with AI.

While self-driving cars also generated great excitement among 24% of respondents, interestingly, it was the most popular choice among women, younger consumers, and those working in the AI industry by a significant margin (50%). With fraud detection coming out on top, we can start to see the shift from fantasy to practicality, a trend that AI-creators should leverage to reinforce the pragmatic use of AI within the workforce.

It is up to a wide range of individuals including developers, marketers, product managers and sales to ensure that AI is used and understood correctly. For successful consumer AI adoption, developers should focus their efforts on leveraging AI to make consumers’ everyday lives easier, augmenting existing experiences to make them more seamless and exciting. While there might be an indifference with fantasy and reality, more and more consumer groups appreciate the success of smart home technology and are watching the development of autonomous vehicles very closely.

It’s up to these sectors to capitalise on the hype, but the results are also a call for the creators of work-focused AI to make solutions that capture the imagination and generate excitement. Not only this, but developers need to have in mind consumer needs relatively clearly even at the start of the process when an idea might be more amorphous.

What’s next?

What does the future hold for AI? While the notion of AI has been perpetuated in popular culture and science fiction throughout our lives, individuals are yet to understand the meaning that AI has and that it isn’t an ‘out-there’ concept. In fact, it is already all around us. It plays a role in our homes and at work, in ways that we wouldn’t expect.

Ultimately, AI creators need to bear this in mind and continuously learn from consumer attitudes towards AI to ensure individuals continue to stay engaged with technology, making the most out of the fantasy.

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this? Attend the co-located 5G ExpoIoT Tech ExpoBlockchain ExpoAI & Big Data Expo, and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London, and Amsterdam.

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