Information Technology and Ethics/AI at Home and on the Go

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Consumer AI

"Consumer Artificial Intelligence (AI)" refers to products and systems that utilize artificially intelligent machines and software and are readily available for purchase by the public. This category of AI is implemented into a number of subgroups that each interact with the user/consumer to fulfill a consumer need.

AI research was founded on the idea that human intelligence could be studied, fully comprehended, and thus, simulated by machines. Since the field gained traction, it has faced a number of ethical and philosophical questions. That said, it is an ever-growing industry that manifests itself in everyday life.

AI and User Voice[edit | edit source]

One of the ways that AI is used by consumers is through their mobile devices. Such devices tend to interact with a user by a "call and response" method, that involves the user telling or asking an AI agent something and the system responding to the user.

Computer program used to simulate a human dialogue partner. Some utilizations include customer service, info gathering (Search for user keywords and make choice) chat rooms. Chatbots often use complex natural language processors to thoroughly and accurately listen for and respond to user input. Some simpler designs use a database to scan for user input (words) and automatically select the best response given the input received.

Intelligent Personal Assistants
Another use of voice-aided AI comes in the form of "intelligent personal assistants (ipa)". In other words, systems that work with other applications and programs to execute user requests.

  • Siri (Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface"Siri.[2].: Apple's iOS ipa that pulls from a natural language database to complete requests made by users. Over time, it becomes quicker and more personalized based on patterns and habits of the user. It also better learns the voice patternsof the user through consistent use.
  • Google Now[3]: Google-developed ipa that can be used by Apple's iOS or any Android device and made available through the Google Search application. Like Siri, Google Now utilizes a natural language database and is also predictive given users habits.

Concerns over Chatbots for Recreational Use
Chatbots have a number of implementations that are often used to gather information from users, however, there has been a growing concern over chatbots that are found in recreational settings, such as toys. Concern over what data is being collected and where the data is going lingers around chatbot usage.

Home Automated Systems[edit | edit source]

Home Automated systems are nothing new but recently there has been a lot product development of such systems. Each Home A.I. system is unique in its functionality and design but the most common characteristic that defines a Home Automated System is the function to link all your electronics and systems in your home through a single interface and control them remotely or automatically. Most of these systems are voice-controlled and come equipped with an A.I. similar to iPhone’s personal assistant Siri, or Google’s Google Now.

Devices & Benefits/Features[4]
There are many competing products in this market but one of the most talked about is Amazon’s Echo. Echo is a cylindrical shaped device that has a voice-controlled interface, and has much of the same functionality as a smartphone virtual assistant. Although it can do many things that a personal assistant can do: like answer questions tell you the weather, or play music. It can also be used to communicate with third party hardware, allowing you to control electronics like your light switches and thermostats.

Some devices come equipped with security features. Branto a spherical home assistant can show you a 360 view of its surroundings, which you can view remotely. Its software will also alert you when it detects suspicious movements while your away.

Other devices like EmoSPARK are more focused on the A.I.. EmoSPARK uses facial recognition to sense your emotions. So if it detects that you’re sad it will try to cheer you up by telling you jokes or playing cheerful music. When you don’t want EmoSPARK to respond to your voice you can put it in privacy mode which is a feature that is not available in other Home AI systems

One of the disadvantages with all of these Home A.I. assistants is its lack of portability. You can’t carry it around like a smartphone, it is only meant for the home and can only be accessed from one room. There are also some serious issues that comes with owning a Digital Home assistant. Some owners for example have expressed concerns that their privacy is being violated. One couple, for example, were baffled when Echo unexpectedly responded with “That’s not very nice to say” when Echo heard them arguing. This couple also were shown an advertisement for diapers a few days after they were discussing about babies. Additionally, Home AI consoles like Amazon Echo were reported to have security vulnerabilities. It would be unlikely but very possible that someone could hack into your system through man-in-the-middle or other means. Once they have access to your system they could potentially unlock your automated door or eavesdrop on your conversations.

Although a lot of these Home Automated Systems offer a lot of great services that can improve your quality of life, it seems you have to sacrifice privacy for ease of living. When purchasing one of these devices a consumer has to decide whether they are willing to allow possible violation of privacy for convenience.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. "Chatterbot." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.
  2. " Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2016
  3. "Google Now." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.
  4. Carroll, Rory. "Goodbye Privacy, Hello Alexa: Here's to Amazon Echo, the Home Robot Who Hears It All." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 21 Nov. 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.