AI is here… and on your phone

The coffee machine is a great place to debate the world’s issues.   Of course in a tech business,  our discussions tend to dodge sports, politics and philosophy in favour of what’s on our various phones!  One of the team was trying to figure out how, when he googled a hotel he was planning to stay at, the google page also told him when he was booked there.  How did it know?

This kind of intuition has been around for a while – Google Now, big brotherMicrosoft Cortana and of course, Apple Siri.   For some time, my Android phone has been helpfully telling me where I parked, [[screen shot attached]] which way I normally drive to work, how long it will take and when I should leave, and other information.   Somehow it even knows about things that aren’t in my diary – it knows I take my daughter to her sports on Tuesdays, and on Tuesdays it reminds where it is (as if I didn’t know) and when I need to leave, even though this isn’t in my diary.   How does it know that?  It must be using the GPS in the phone and determining patterns.   When I travel away from home, it makes helpful suggestions – the local weather, local restaurants and points of interest, and if it’s overseas, it tells me the exchange rate and the timezone differences.

Personally, I find this useful, but I can also see how it might be an invasion of privacy.   That’s going to be the challenge.  As computers try to be smarter and more intuitive, they need to use all the clues they can.  Whether this means they aggregate data to help you navigate the fastest way to a destination (e,g Google Maps) or they can profile you (Google Now), the intuition your device presents comes from its ability to take what it knows about you and draw conclusions.  It won’t always be right, but which of us is perfect.

I’m not sure if we should be excited or nervous!  What do you think?