We humans are very predictable

October 10, 2017

AI (artificial intelligence) is getting better and better at predicting what we’ll be doing next.  At the moment, AI is just seen as means of convenience. But in the near future, we may cross a point where computers are telling us how to live our lives based on our everyday actions and DNA.

I came across this thought after having a conversation with my sister over text message.  Thanks to the predictive text feature on the G-board (Android’s default keyboard), I was able to say to her “hope you get well soon” with only 6 taps. Google’s algorithm probably saw the word “sick”, from my sister's last text message, then saw that I tapped on the letter “H”. With Google’s access to everyone’s data and common responses to the word “sick”, it was able to predict what I will be saying next.

This is both convenient and time saving. But then this got me thinking about other convenient AI and how it affects our lives today.  

I remember when Google Now was first launched and my wife thought it was creepy for Google to start suggesting relevant things that we may be interested in before we know we need it.  For example, when I used to work at a corporate office job, I had a daily commute.  Because of my routine of leaving the house for work and coming back at the same hours each weekday, it’s easy to predict which roads and highways I would be taking on my commute. If there was an accident in my common route, Google would suggest alternative routes that I could take.

Now we have other things that are trying to predict what we should do, like Amazon suggesting to restock on home supplies, Twitter showing us tweets and people that we may be interested in, and Spotify suggesting new music that we may like.

Just the other day, my brother-in-law celebrated his birthday at one of his favorite restaurants. When I heard where we’ll be eating it made me think about how one day Google may notice that a family member’s birthday is coming up and there hasn’t been any planning around it. I could just imagine Google reminding family members to start planning a dinner and also suggesting restaurants that may interest the family member with a birthday.

Now that I have a daughter, I wonder more about what the future will be like and how technology will affect her life.  Currently, humans are making the choices and telling computers what to do. But, in the future will it be the computers making the choices and telling us humans what to do?

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Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash