Last week, two of the largest tech giants, Microsoft and Google, held their annual developer and I/O events.  Both events were centered around the implementation of smarter AI and machine learning in things such as email and map applications.  Microsoft concentrated a lot on IoT, cloud security and Cortana. Yeah, we heard Alexa and Cortana work together for the first time, but Google’s “Duplex” AI enhanced personal assistant just had that “wow” factor.  Google came out as the clear winner when they demonstrated “Duplex” talking to a real human on the other end and scheduling a hair appointment.

The way Google Duplex adds small nuances like saying “Ummm” to appear human is fascinating.  The way it handles what could be a difficult conversation because of difficult cultural barriers is really what I took away from watching the video.  It really does show the power and the huge potential of what’s possible with AI. However, a few people were calling the demonstration of Google’s AI unethical and immoral, noting that tricking people into thinking that they are speaking with another human can bring in a whole new set of problems. I guess every new technology can be used for both good and bad things, though! Following the backlash, Google Duplex has stated that it will be identifying itself as a robot when getting on calls and making appointments.

Uber, also held their tech conference in LA last week.  AI is of course very present in driverless vehicles. To most, flying vehicles can become a reality before autonomous ones.  Given the pace of which AI is growing, one could argue otherwise. Uber’s testing of self-driving vehicles was brought to a halt after the first recorded death of a pedestrian by one of their vehicles. However,  I don’t think this will stop them from developing the tech further. You also have other companies like Lyft, who are investing heavily in autonomous cars with a brand new facility in Palo Alto, CA, focused on building self-driving technology.  Land Rover Jaguar are also developing tech to create the world’s first self learning vehicle. It will be using the latest AI techniques to learn driver habits continuously and improve automated functions over time. All of this is designed to reduce driver distraction and take the chore out of driving.

Recently, AI has really shown us how it can have a huge impact on our everyday lives.  You can apply AI to far more than just automating hair appointments and driverless cars though. Over the past couple of weeks one can really start to imagine how our world might look like in the future.  A future that doesn’t feel quite so distant any longer.

If you are reading this article, I would love to read your thoughts and opinions on this topic, please sound off in the comments section below.