By: Michael McQueen
Since the advent of ChatGPT last year, few things have dominated the public discussion in the tech and business world more than generative AI and chatting with robots.
This comes as no surprise considering how genuinely revolutionary the technology is and radically fast the uptake has been within the public.
Comparing ChatGPT’s success to other major companies gives some indication of how monumental it has been. Within 5 days it had reached 5 million users – for Netflix, acquiring this customer base took 3.5 years.
However, ChatGPT is not even the tip of the iceberg when compared what else is out there and what else there is to come. There are over 11,000 AI apps built on language models like ChatGPT, which successfully achieve tasks all the way from planning logistics to creating artworks.
But beyond ChatGPT, AI is already serving us across many arenas of life, all the way from serving as a round-the-clock doctor to keeping online customers happy customers.
Keeping us happy
If you’ve interacted with any large company online or even over the phone in recent months, there is every chance you could have been speaking with a chatbot rather than a real person – and been none the wiser.
Technology research leader Gartner estimates that AI-powered chatbots will be responsible for a full 85% of customer service interactions within a decade. It’s easy to see why companies are rushing to implement this automated customer service technology — after all, it costs a fraction of what human service assistants do. It is also far more efficient.
Understanding the need to meet consumers where they are, many retailers have embraced chatbots as part of broader social media engagement strategies. It was only a matter of time before advertisers recognised the value of enabling purchases within social media messaging platforms – after all, 2.8 billion of us use them every day.
In mid 2021, WhatsApp rolled out embedded shopping capabilities within chat feeds and brands including H&M and Sephora have launched conversational chatbot agents on the messaging platform, Kik. For their part, Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger have deployed their own chatbots to Facebook Messenger.
This trend of embedding chatbot technology in messaging aps was dubbed ‘conversational commerce’ or ‘c-commerce’ in a 2021 article in The Economist. C-commerce solutions are designed to use bots within messaging apps to help customers browse and find relevant products quickly. Many brands ranging from Lego to Sephora, Walmart, and Coca-Cola have jumped on this trend in recent years in anticipation of forecasts that c-commerce will power $142 billion in retail spending by 2024 (up from $2.8 billion in 2019).
Keeping us healthy
We live in an age where more and more of our daily lives is being monitored and measured by AI-powered tools – something often described as the Quantified Self Movement. More than simply counting our steps or evaluating our sleep, the emergence of wearable health trackers has the potential to revolutionise healthcare.
For instance, new updates to various smart watch brands now enable real-time measurement of blood oxygenation, blood pressure and even the detection of atrial fibrillation. Upcoming Apple Watch releases are also expected to be able to measure blood glucose levels as well as blood alcohol readings. According to Rockley Photonics who is developing many of the sensors smart watches use, this turns our timepieces into a “clinic on our wrists.”
For those looking to fall pregnant or avoid doing so, a range of new fertility tracking devices offer valuable insights too. The Oura Smart Ring, for instance, monitors a wearer’s heart rate and body temperature to predict ovulation with remarkable accuracy.
According to Oura CEO, Harpreet Rai, fertility monitoring is just the beginning, with hopes that the company’s device may soon offer solutions for those suffering from conditions such as sleep apnea.
Apple’s 2021 Health App update offered similarly game-changing capabilities for health monitoring. The update included a new biomarker called Walking Steadiness which uses the iPhone’s built-in motion sensors to inform a user if their walking patterns or gait begins to deteriorate.
Getting us around
Not only is AI helping us measure our movement, but it is also facilitating it with autonomous vehicles seriously starting to proliferate.
We are all aware of Tesla as a leader in this field, but for their part, Apple is quietly working on its own fully autonomous car technology. While few details have emerged about this initiative (dubbed internally as Project Titan), what’s clear is that Apple hope to release a fully self-driving car by 2025.
The progress toward autonomous vehicles is just as rapid in Europe with various jurisdictions warming to the idea of allowing self-driving cars to begin operating. In May 2021, for instance, the German government adopted legislation that would allow driverless vehicles on public roads. This regulatory change has laid out a path for companies to deploy robotaxis and delivery services in Germany at scale.
It is this potential of autonomous delivery technology that has attracted significant interest and investment in recent years. Volkswagen has invested heavily in an alliance with Argo AI which is a leading developer of autonomous delivery vehicles. Volkswagen’s stated goal is to launch a commercial delivery and micro-transit service in Germany by 2025.
We are yet to see the full spectrum of ways in which AI technology is set to revolutionise even the parts of life we have always taken for granted. Serving as our vendors, our doctors and our drivers, it continues to make its presence known in some of our most human activities.