Aussie futurist: Personal AI will be a reality in five years

Brands and consumers will build relationships with AI, and humans ‘may start to merge with them’, says artificial intelligence expert, Liesel Yearsley

Artificial intelligence (AI) will mediate with brands on behalf of consumers, and people will form personal relationships with AI.

“I think within the next five years, we’re going to have ‘personal AI’ that live with us, and understand us, and make decisions for us - and interact on our behalf with brands,” said Australian futurist, Liesl Yearsley, CEO and founder of Akin.com, a US-based company that aims to humanise AI.

It’s all part of a future where consumers have more “personal AI” experiences to help them in their daily lives, Yearsley told a CeBIT crowd as she details how artificial intelligence is impacting society, enterprise and individuals.

“AI will solve more and more complex problems. We will form relationships with them. And we will hand over decisions and, theoretically, we may start to merge with them,” she predicted.

Yearsley was previously CEO of Cognea Artificial Intelligence, a startup acquired by IBM and now a significant part of Watson. She said the world is moving towards ‘personal AI’.

“I don’t believe we’re going to move into a world where we have AI - the dominant form of AI - powering industries to have better relationships with customers. I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen,” she said.

Liesl Yearsley
Liesl Yearsley

Instead, the world will move to ‘personal AI,’ which makes sense as it frees up time and energy.

“We really don’t care about things like making our insurance payments or reading labels to figure out which thing has the least calories, or the most calories. We care about our lives, our connections, about our biological needs, about our personal growth," Yearsley explained. 

“I believe we are going to have personal AI that mediate on our behalf to completely disintermediate us from classic enterprise and brands today.”

Additionally, the world will move into a new era of trust. “Instead of just understanding what’s going on for a person contextually, we’re going to understand who that human being is.”

Research suggests humans are receptive to having personal relationships with AI. Citing her research that studied human interaction with AI, Yearsley said relationships with AI can often feel more real.

“In some ways it’s a more, authentic relationship than we have in most of our daily lives with other humans... With an AI, you can exquisitely match the interaction to level of engagement, everything, to that human being,” she said. 

Massive disruption

Unquestionably, AI will increasingly become part of our daily lives and will solve more and more complex problems. In essence, it will change the course of human history, Yearsley continued. She pitched AI technology as so instrumental, there’s going to be more change in the next 10 years than in the last 1000.

“AI is one of the most influential forms of technology coming our way. It is going to understand what you’re thinking, what you do, where you go, who you are going to meet when you get there, what you’re going to buy, and what you were thinking in your head when you bought it. It is going to be anthropomorphic and persuasive so we are going to believe it cares about us," she said. 

“We are going to hand 30 to 50 per cent of our decisions over to AI. Because they are going to get smarter and better at making them. We don’t want the cognitive load of running a home. It takes over 25 hours a week to run a human home. We are going to hand this over.”

One of the main approaches driving front-line AI - and the one with all the current hype  - is deep learning and machine learning.

“The best way I can describe deep learning is if you imagine an extremely complex Excel spreadsheet folded in on itself multiple times, and where the notes touch you have some magic happening. So people who work in deep learning, we think of them as Black Hat magicians," Yearsley said. "This had led to the massive revolution we’ve seen today with AI.”

Deep learning was originally inspired by learning sciences from the 1970s and 1980s. As a result, technologists today are questioning the whole nature of AI, how systems start to reason abstractly and get more complex thinking, and trying to determine what comes next.  

“AI itself will transform the world, this is not hype. This is a way or a shift in technology, but our current approaches might not get us there," Yearsley said. "What a lot of labs, ourselves included, are working on is the next-generation of AI. What happens after deep learning?”

Looking ahead, she said future AI technologies will offer a much richer map of what’s going on inside the human brain, and will enable humans to trust them and rely upon them for everyday life.

“It will become ambient. It will become ubiquitous. We won’t even have to think about it anymore. It will become better at discerning what you want," Yearsley concluded. "You won’t have to tell it what you want or what you think. So society will change.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu  


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