I’m calling it – we’re in the Summer of Artificial Intelligence. Ok, it might not sound as glamorous as the Summer of Love or Bryan Adams’ Summer of ’69, but it’s just as seminal – if not more so.
Over the past couple of years we’ve seen a trend where technologies previously reserved for the elite or big tech giants have been opened up to mass consumption. We saw this last summer, when the launch of Pokémon Go and the game’s meteoric rise – amassing 10 million downloads in its first week – brought Augmented Reality (AR) into the mainstream. A year on, consumers across the world use AR without batting an eyelid every time we add a Snapchat filter.
This year, we’re seeing Artificial Intelligence go through the same kind of shift. Amazon Alexa’s domination shows no sign of stopping, and June saw the successful launch of Amazon Echo Show, adding video to the highly competent voice technology. Now, for the first time, Alexa has been built natively into a smartphone – the HTC U11. Even the most traditional of British institutions are using AI to enrich the consumer experience, with Wimbledon using IBM Watson to create a voice assistant called Fred (after Fred Perry, obviously) to direct fans to the nearest strawberries. Gone are the days when AI sounded like science fiction – we all interact with it countless times every day; knowingly or not.
The democratisation of these kinds of technologies is a wonderful thing. As well as allowing people to run around cities catching Pidgeys and Rattatas to their hearts’ content, AR is enabling surgeons with limited resources to get interactive training from other doctors overseas. And the applications of AI stretch miles beyond Alexa telling you the weather forecast – with mobile health apps now giving millions of people in developing countries access to instant diagnosis.
Consumer trust in Artificial Intelligence is growing, and adoption around the world is rocketing – but we must make sure that as trust in this kind of…