IMPACT’s purpose is to put people first so that companies make a lasting impact. We’re leaders in understanding human connection and behaviour, but we are always seeking to learn more about what the future looks like for artificial intelligence (AI).

Last Thursday, IMPACT’s Olivia Bailey attended the VIVID Ideas keynote ‘CNET’s Next Big Thing: The AI Revolution’, to gain some insight into the effects of AI on everyday consumers and the lives they live.

The key takeout is that AI thrives is in the application of data and pattern analysis; comprehending algorithms and formulas and creating new ways to make our lives more efficient. However, in situations that require empathy or meaningful connections, humans will always reign supreme.


What does the future look like for AI?

Most people aren’t aware of how much AI they already use in their daily lives. From Siri, Google and Alexa to Google Maps and their email inbox, around 77% of us are already using some sort of AI technology. However, the future is set to see a new era of “smart” in our lives.

This question was posed to the audience; would you trust a self-driving car? Most of the room said no, despite the fact self-driving cars are statistically predicted to reduce the number of accidents as not be able to disobey road rules and speeding limits.

Another future application of AI is its role in diagnostics and medicine. Robot doctors would be unable to make mistakes, due to factors like fatigue and oversight like regular doctors and would provide vital in diagnosing diseases and illnesses, yet most people at the event were unable to say they could trust Dr Robot.

The panelists commented that societal distrust in AI is linked to our desire for human connection with people we trust, particularly in like doctors, police officers and pilots.

The true possibilities of AI are not restricted by its functionality; but in the fear of the unknown. If as a society we want greater efficiency and functionality in our lives, but are too frightened of what we cannot control, then we will never realise the full potential of the positive impact AI can have.


Why do we make robots in our image?

Our understanding of future technology often mirrors scenes from a sci-fi movie. We see AI as anthropomorphized versions of ourselves, rising up to take over the world.

The panelists believe creating technology in our image helps us to connect with and understand AI better. In time, AI will become omnipresent and baked into existence, rather than physical entities within society.


Should robots be programmed to feel pain?

This was a divisive question, even for the panelists. Many felt it wasn’t humane to program robots to feel pain.

However, those who felt robots should feel pain argued that it is a fundamental principle of learning and without an understanding of pain, robots will not be able to develop deep understanding of human behaviour. In order to make robots more like humans, it is important that they understand pain is a negative emotion, and that it can also be inflicted on others.


AI has its place at the table in our future, but it won’t be at the head

The future of AI will dramatically change the face of the workforce, but it won’t replace it. Humans will only get out of AI what we put in and programming that data will still require a significant workforce.

In a world full of grey, AI still finds it difficult to comprehend something that isn’t black and white. Most importantly, creating trusting, meaningful connections with others will never be overtaken by AI: humans will always be more effective (at least in the foreseeable future!).