21 February 2018

The future of AI lies in your hands

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I have a bit of a confession to make (and I am probably the only one in my generation to have held out on this) I hadn’t bought a single thing online before producing the Retail Tech Summit.

For research sake, I thought I’d better go on a bit of a virtual shopping spree (very enjoyable project I assigned myself!)

The whole process was impressive – from very relevant product recommendations, to the information provided right up till my once intangible products were magically in my hands.

I have to be honest though, if I hadn’t consciously stopped myself with all these items being suggested to me and maintained self-control, I would have a bit of a hefty credit card debt.

It got me to thinking of all future instances where I may not have such strong will power and will inevitably throw self-deprivation out the window to succumb to what I am sure to think I ‘need’.

This was all daunting enough, until the real reality hit - this was actually tame use of AI. I came across an article on Linked In about the potential of AI to read and interpret human thoughts.

While this may sound very doomsday-ish, there’s no denying this is a very real possibility, as are a plethora of other scenarios I’m sure you’ve got at least one of imprinted in your imagination.

I read the other day that you cannot have advanced technologies in any beneficial way without advanced thinking – this seemed to be the perfect, yet contrasting, example of this article that spun me into a state of shock-horror.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for AI and the amazing opportunities it presents to transform our lives. What I’m not all for is if technology advances at a pace faster than the human race evolves, where instead of being used responsibly and for the benefit of all, it’s used for power, manipulation and control.

I am sure this has run through everyone’s minds at some point.

The way I see it is we are at a crossroads. We could approach AI with the intention to serve, i.e. developing sophisticated product recommendations because you genuinely think the customer may get joy out of purchasing that product, or to improve their satisfaction from faster delivery of items, to in-store experience. Of course, profit is the end goal and there’s no avoiding that, nor should there be. But if we go the other way and completely disregard the common good, then there’s a good chance it will become very imbalanced, very quickly.

Right now at least, it’s a matter of being conscious in your decision making, rather than being impressionable, but if it reaches the stage where we start to lose that control, that’s when the future begins to look dim.

I for one do not want to live in a world like that. I want AI to take the mundane, slave-like tasks out of the lives of others and free everyone to live in a world where they do what they do for the love of doing it, enabling them to be much more creative beings.

There are of course going to be some who use AI for power, but every individual has the responsibility to look at the intention behind their use of it and make a conscious choice to use it to serve others.

After all, whatever we do to others, we do to ourselves.

Written by: Gracie Fea

Originally from NZ, Gracie worked as a Broadcast Journalist for a few years before moving to London, and then to Sydney, where she fatefully came across conference production and quickly realised it was her dream role. Getting to speak with such passionate and successful people and create an agenda so that people can see themselves in other’s experiences, really spins her wheels.

She has a hunger to hear everyone’s unique story and really thrives from creating a platform for them to share these and help move their industry forward through collaboration.

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