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How AI Shapes Our Daily Lives

By Henry Silva, AI developer

It seems like time is really speeding up, doesn’t it? Things that were once considered science fiction have become part of our reality. Technologies like self-driving cars and smart homes are quickly becoming part of the daily lives of millions of Americans. Given how fast the landscape is changing, it raises the question: how will these new technologies affect us? And more importantly, will they be accessible for everyone?

An important concept related to this emergent tech is the so-called “Internet of Things” — “IoT” for short. IoT is a term created to describe the increasing interconnectedness of tools we own. For example, think of all the devices connected via bluetooth in your house, like a cellphone that communicates with a speaker or how Amazon Alexa controls smart TVs and lighting systems. These technologies make up the Internet of Things. An extension of that concept is the Artificial Intelligence of Things, or “AIoT.” The AIoT is what happens when interconnected devices use AI, like a Roomba that uses AI to vacuum your apartment, or a virtual assistant like Alexa which uses powerful AI tools to understand our voice commands.

In the U.S. alone, there are more than 100 million virtual assistant users, and the number of manufactured virtual assistant devices is already in the billions. It’s clear that these technologies aren’t approaching — they’ve already arrived.

Since these technologies are commonplace already, let’s talk about how they affect us. IoT and AIoT have already proven successful at a number of different activities, like making health care systems more efficient, improving the quality of transportation networks, and many others. But these technologies also have a profound impact on a more personal level. A fully-automated and interconnected home, filled with a variety of different devices, from smart fridges and TVs to locking and lighting systems, is already a trend. Smart homes are already popular in the U.S. Research shows that there are approximately 40 million smart homes, a number which will increase by 50% next year.

But what about surveillance? Can we trust all these connected devices? The answer to this question is up to debate. We can’t be sure if big tech companies are respecting our privacy. The fact of the matter is that it’s more likely that tech companies are abusing our privacy, not respecting it. Matters of privacy came to a head after the Cambridge Analytica scandal with Facebook, where millions of people’s personal data were sold to groups interested in influencing the 2016 U.S. presidential election. And a recent Apple scandal, where an anonymous worker leaked information about privacy violations and other rights violations, further fueled the fire.

However, there exists major efforts from the government and other institutions to make sure that tech companies respect our privacy and use our data correctly, and so, with the right amount of social and political pressure, these issues could be dealt with in the future.

In the end, IoT is undoubtedly an amazing group of technologies, and we’ve seen that they are already drastically changing our lives and making major welfare improvements for millions of Americans. And that is exactly why we need to make sure that the people responsible for manufacturing these devices and maintaining them are acting in our best interests, because only then we will be able to fully benefit from technology.

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