Chatted to Siri lately? Did she make a recipe suggestion based on your favourite meal? And how, we wonder, does she even understand your South African accent? Or the meaning of ‘pap and sous’? If you have a closer look at your online purchase behaviour and invitations to your mates to join you for a braai, it might all make sense. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is hard at work – whether that be at your place or mine.

We probably could no longer imagine a world in which machine learning is not an aid. AI is solely responsible for pushing advertisements about your favourite hobby or recommending the best Indian restaurant in your vicinity.

Twitter processes localise data through deep neural networks to establish and predict your preferences, while AI helps Facebook process people’s status updates more than 250 000 times per minute. Added to that, it suggests new friend options based on the profiles of existing friends. Instagram uses big data and AI to push commercial messages, counteract cyberbullying, prevent spam and delete offensive comments, all in the absence of human intervention.

Thank goodness that chatbots are now answering our queries and delivering helpful information to answer frequently asked questions. Admit it, have you ever felt that you were actually talking to a person? And digital assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Now help us to find out facts and to send subsequent commands to completely different apps. What a time-saving win.

Because AI learns from every interaction, it can personalise appropriate responses. In fact, it will soon be taking us for rides in self-driving cars. Mmm, time to catch up on email, eh? The current Uber self-drive vehicle comes equipped with top-mounted LIDAR beams that interpret over 1 million laser points per second (yes, one million) to develop a 3D map of the immediate environment. The mounted camera can interpret colour and can observe changes in traffic lights. Modules on the front, back and sides help to reveal blind spots and warn of braking vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. And, if your granny has a problem with tandem parking, the antennae on the roof allows the car to position itself via the GPS.

Tech company Nvidia is already supplying big brands such as Toyota and Mercedes Benz with this advanced technology. Think of their tech as your chauffeur.

Another everyday example of AI is Google predictive search which formulates your search term options as you start to type it in the search bar. And, predicated on data that Google has collected over time – your sex, age, location, preferences – the search engine attempts to guess what you might want to see. The search engine optimisation algorithms try to deliver the best possible results to the user, and AI examines the quality and relevance of content to determine whether the responses are appropriate.

When it comes to music, how often do you still type in your favourite titles? Google Play takes into consideration the season of the year, whether it is morning or evening in your part of the world and sets the mood – boogie on Saturday evening and classical music on a pensive Sunday.

Well, with estimates that commercial airline pilots only actually fly planes for 7 minutes on average in a typical flight, we might soon see the era of robot pilots. Remember to fasten those seatbelts as instructed already, fellow passengers.

Need help with determining what new technology your business needs?


Altron Managed Solutions

1 Vlak Street, Selby Ext. 5, 2092, Gauteng,
South Africa
PO Box 3591, Johannesburg, 2000,
Gauteng, South Africa

+27 (11) 373 4000

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