Artificial Intelligence: The (NOT) Ominous Future

Credit: DNA Films

“One day the AIs are going to look back on us the same way we look at fossil skeletons on the plains of Africa. An upright ape living in dust with crude language and tools, all set for extinction.” — Nathan Bateman, “Ex Machina” (2014)

And so begins our fear of AI. Not to mention that HBO’s Westworld and Channel 4’s Humans fill our minds with futures that include self-aware beautiful android beings. There’s also Sophia the Robot, who possesses an Instagram bio complete with, “Robots should have equal rights as humans.”

As if the vastly different opinions on AI weren’t apparent enough in the media, the comments on Sophia the Robot’s Instagram are filled with debate, hate, praise, and the occasional inappropriate come-on. She’s even labelled “Lifelike Hot Robot Sophia” in a video posted on the CNBC Youtube.

Because who doesn’t want to date an android, amirite?

Credit: Sophia the Robot’s Instagram

Putting Sophia’s “hotness” aside (sheesh, CNBC), let’s move on to the several reasons why we should actually appreciate AI.

“The fact of the matter is that AI and machine learning are so fundamentally good for humanity,” — Eric Schmidt, Former CEO of Google

And, though he’s been the source of many memes and target of much ridicule recently, here’s a quote from Mark Zuckerberg:

“I think that AI is going to unlock a huge amount of positive things, whether that’s helping to identify and cure diseases, to help cars drive more safely, to help keep our communities safe,” — Mark Zuckerberg

And due to the popular theory that Mark Zuckerberg might actually be an android himself (check Reddit), here’s another quote:

“AI can be our friend,” — Bill Gates

How can AI be our friend? Well, it’s not all about scary beautiful androids. We interact with practical, friendly AI on a daily basis — and the AI innovations currently happening are driving us towards a better, smarter future.


According to a study conducted by Oxford and NPR, there’s only a 0.4% chance that the jobs of physicians and surgeons could be automated. So if you’re a doctor or surgeon, your job is pretty much safe. Yay. But there are several ways that AI can improve healthcare and make everyone’s jobs easier.

In a study published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, Google researches predicted cardiovascular risk factors from retinal images — using Artificial Intelligence. Cardiovascular risk screening normally requires vast information on the individual, some of which is acquired through invasive procedures such as blood testing.

A doctor listed the ways that AI could make them a better doctor in an article on The Medical Futurist: eradicate waiting time, prioritize emails, find relevant information immediately, rationalize decisions…the list goes on.

Credit: Intuition Robotics

AI assistants can also help with everything from occupational therapy to remotely monitoring patients with chronic illnesses. With longer life expectancies and increasing aging populations in several countries, AI assistants can also help senior citizens maintain independence. Intuition Robotics has developed a robot, Elli Q, that encourages seniors to stay active and engaged.


Indian farmers are using AI to increase crop yields. Pretty great, right? An AI Pest Prediction API is helping farmers take preventative measures against pests, and the use of AI in crop sowing can lead to 30% higher crop yields. The government of Karnataka will also start to use AI for price forecasting — calculating prices for various crops three months in advance.

Credit: Harvest CROO

In the US, robots are being developed and tested to help with or take over such tasks as weed control, crop harvesting, and crop and soil monitoring. Harvest CROO has developed a robot to help strawberry farmers deal with the lack of available field workers — engineering a robot that can pick a single strawberry plant in 8 seconds and harvest a total of 8 acres per day.

Everything Else

Beneficial AI can be applied to almost all aspects of life. AI can be used to personalize education: all the way from kindergarten to university and beyond. Due to different learning styles and strengths, personalized education can help students progress at their own pace; and AI can find solutions to help individuals start to excel in the subjects or classes they’re struggling with.

Ever wish that you had a dog like Nana from Peter Pan to help you keep track of your kids? AI can now be used to assist you with child-monitoring. Invidyo: The World’s Smartest Baby Monitor uses AI to recognize important moments of your baby’s life that you should be monitoring — and sends you notifications if anything unusual occurs. Even Google is developing an AI babysitter, with the aim to protect unattended children at home through smart gadgets.

Credit: Invidyo

Everyone knows about autonomous cars, but AI is being used to improve driver safety as well. Several Japanese automakers are developing intelligent driver assistants — with Mitsubishi already unveiling their intelligent assistant, Risa. Using advanced technology and a camera, Risa collects extensive information outside the car to inform the driver and improve safety while monitoring driver drowsiness and concentration. Risa also connects with Softbank’s Pepper, a humanoid robot who is stationed at the driver’s home, to customize route suggestions and find the best restaurants to stop at when on the road.

Pepper the Robot. Credit: Softbank Robotics

So…Artificial Intelligence isn’t all scary androids. There are plenty of practical, highly beneficial ways to apply AI. We do love Westworld and Ex Machina though.

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Source: Deep Learning on Medium