AI & Robotics…
Good morning dear reader & welcome to my world this week. My topic this week is based around technology & one I personally struggle with. Therefore I have probably no real qualifications to make some of the comments I do, in fact some may consider them totally subjective. However I have decided there are observations I would like to make. Hence the need for assistance.
Can you imagine a day when your grocery cart will scan & weigh items, alert you to sales, suggest items based on what you have already chosen, & help locate products in the store. It will then scan your credit card to check out.
Here is an even-easier fantasy: You could download a free app, scan a QR code at the entrance to the store, grab items off the shelves, then exit through the turnstiles. By the time you are halfway to your car, you will receive a receipt in the app.
Sounds like science fiction? It is actually just science. The Wall Street Journal tells us AI powered shopping is already here & coming to stores nationwide this year. 1
Will a robot drive your next taxi? Here is another fiction-to-fact story: According to Bloomberg Businessweek, robot-drive taxis will soon make travel in a driverless cabmuch cheaper than owning a car. 2 Ride-hailing services such as Uber & Lyft are making personal car ownership less attractive as well. Autonomous delivery robots will bring products from Pizza Hut, Walmart & other companies to your door.
Stanford School of Medicine has developed an AI - assisted mental health platform. Wooebot offers flexibility for patients by being available at any hour of the day. This virtual counsellor also offers anonymity which might free patients worried about how their therapist is evaluating them. 3
Humans can do amazing things. However, we are still finite people living in a fallen world.
I just finished reading a book review on No Beast So Fierce by Dane Huckelbridge. The subtitle tells the tale: The Terrifying True Story of the Champawat Tiger, the Deadliest Animal in History. A Bengal tiger was shot in the mouth by a hunter in 1900 but survived. Its injury rendered it unable to catch its normal prey, so it began hunting people. Over the next seven years, the tiger killed & ate more than four hundred people in Nepal & India. A hunter retained by the British government was finally able to kill it in 1907.
Why was the Bengal tiger able to hunt humans so effectively for so long? As Huckelbridge notes, such tigers can run nearly three times faster than humans. Their bite is stronger than a great white shark. A single blow from their paw can decapitate a human. And they are smart, often outwitting their prey by imitating their sounds & tracking them into places where they are susceptible to attack.
Tigers are not the only predators humans should fear. Mosquitoes, snakes, dogs, and tapeworms are among the animals killing the most people in the world. 4
However, if you are like most, you are not really afraid of Bengal tigers, mosquitoes, & tapeworms today. Our technological advances can lead us to think we are immune from mortality. If we had been living in the jungles of Nepal a century ago, the perilous nature of life would have been far more obvious to us. Even a generation ago, we would have lived in fear of polio or smallpox.
Today however, one of the real major problems I think we face is the significance of change occurring, particularly in the technological world. According to Nathan Smith in the NBR on December 7th; infrastructure & essential sectors are being targeted by criminals taking advantage of the newly connected nature of industrial control systems.
We have seen a real maturity in the criminal ecosystem of the cyber world as it moves to the next level to become a full market economy. The criminals are running businesses.
All connected devices introduce a potential risk into the corporate & home networks the moment they are connected. Organisations are deeply interconnected which comes with security risks. Pinpointing & avoiding these cyber-security risks will soon be nearly impossible as the global supply chain becomes increasingly complex.
Perhaps we should take our chances with Bengal tigers my friends. I am not too sure I will be able to cope with all this robotic advice; in my experience it is not working well from what I am seeing.
Thank you for taking the time to be with me once again. I hope my journey may encourage you also. This is Kenn Butler in Paradise, Nelson, with my best wishes for another week… I look forward to being with you all again soon.