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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is coming: Glimpses of AI exisiting in our smart phones and other digital devices
The dictionary defines artificial intelligence as: "computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages".

One elementary example we already see very often is 'face recognition'. If we post a photo of a person and also name the person, then this information goes permanently into the Cloud or data bank. Later, if anyone else posts a photo of a crowd, in which this person is also there, then Facebook or Google Photo will name that person and others also, whom it similarly 'recognises'. 

This face recognition business can be tricky: While most of the time it is harmless, often it can be an invasion of privacy. European countries are battling against unauthorised use of personal data. The photo may have been shot only for illustrative purposes, but there have been litigation by people who had wished to be anonymous in a crowd, but their identity was nevertheless automatically revealed. 

By now our devices already have speech recognition and auto-translate.

Personified in Windows 10 as Cortana or Siri by Apple, every manufacturer mostly has a female name for their Speech Assistant. For example, when working on an article, instead of typing on the keyboard, I can speak out 'When did the Berlin Wall fall?' Or 'when did Gorbachev declare Perestroika'? And pat comes the answer!

Slowly, I am experimenting dictation instead of typing. For that the device has to tune itself to my manner of speaking. (This is the 'self learning' part of the machine). Future scenario could be: that for giving instructions on some financial digital transaction, the device has to make sure that it is I who is giving the instruction and not some fraudster!

As for auto-translate, it is already apparent in Facebook. When a friend from Chile sends me a post in Spanish, at my end it is either received fully in English or a mix of English and Spanish.

With Google Translate, one can translate from any language to any language in respective scripts. All in a jiffy! 

Once an American friend of European descent sent us her latest poem, which was in English. Mischievously, I took out the translation of her poem in German and French, courtesy the built in translation app in MS Word. Thrilled, she complimented me on my translation, and gave the copies to her daughter to show to her languages teacher. When I told her that it was not me, but the computer which had done the competent translation, she was bewildered!

When travelling, using Navigator and GPS (Global Positioning System) in our smart phone or on the dashboard, we can see the preferred route from point A to point B. It also tells the approximate time the driving will take, as per the then existing traffic conditions.

By now, the above examples have become common place and we take them for granted. All manufacturers have announced that their next smart phones and other devices will have artificial intelligence in a big way. What does that mean?

I asked a friend who promoted one of the most successful IT companies in India. 'I am putting a hypothetical question to you. 'Tell me, if my example is right'. 

If in future, I ask my smart phone:  'I have Rs 1 lakh to park for one year. Where should I invest it? In fixed deposits, mutual funds or government bonds!' 'Yes, you will get the optimum answer. Things are moving in that direction'!

Google maps and similar apps will 'learn' your preferred destinations and halts for refreshments, etc. When you activate them, all these routes and halts will be already highlighted for you.

Warning: Be very discrete in whatever you post or talk on the internet. Our Facebook posts, WhatsApp chats and discussing flirtations, or holiday plans can have very unfortunate consequences. Everything goes into the memory of the Big Brother - the Cloud or other Big Data. Mostly it will be used to target ads at you, depending on your earnings, lifestyle etc., based on all the choices you have made earlier and the loose chats one may be having. But it will also be helping you with other decision makings, too.

It is not a good idea to announce on Facebook that 'I'm at Terminal 2 or dining out at Chopsticks'. Or, 'Amsterdam, here I come!' You are giving away your location to possible crooks or stalkers. It also is a clue that your home may be empty and could be robbed.

An example:

 In Honolulu, my son called a contractor to estimate the number of solar panels required on his rooftop. When the contractor came, 'Shall we climb up to take the measurements?' The contractor replied that he had already done so! How? 'I have already measured it on Google Earth!

The contractor also related a robbery in the neighbourhood. A thief got to know from social media, that the occupants were going on a long holiday. On Google Earth he located the entrance and windows of the house, and could easily plan the break in. 

Artificial Intelligence will save us a lot of drudgery, by doing some jobs for us in a jiffy.  It is bound to help in every aspect of our life.

But we have to be careful of the Big Brother!

Remember the acronym: GIGO -  'Garbage in, is garbage out'!

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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