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Opinion: Will AI power too many smart home devices?

By Julio Franco ยท 13 replies
Jan 10, 2018
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  1. To the surprise of virtually no one, the overriding theme at this year’s CES appears to be artificial intelligence. At press conference after press conference on the media days before the show’s official start, vendor after vendor extolled the virtues of AI, though each of them offered a little bit of their own twist.

    At Samsung’s preview event on Sunday night, the company talked about using AI to do video upscaling on some of their newest TVs. Later that night, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang spent a good amount of time describing the efforts the chip company had spent on developing accelerator chips optimized for both training and inferencing for deep neural networks being used in AI applications.

    Monday morning, LG announced their own AI brand—ThinQ—which will be used to delineate all the new products they have which utilize the technology. Monday afternoon, Qualcomm talked about bringing AI to a variety of new applications and platforms, from hearables and other audio-focused products, to automotive applications and beyond. At the Sony press conference, the upgraded Aibo dog—a name now recognized to be a combination of AI and robot—charmed the crowd with its capabilities. Finally, on Monday evening, Intel CEO Bryan Krzanich described a world where AI can be used for everything from space exploration, through content creation, and onto autonomous cars.

    In addition to AI, we saw a large number of announcements related to smart home, connected devices, and personal IoT. In most cases, the two concepts were tied together, with the connected home devices being made “smart” by AI technologies, as Samsung displayed at their primary press conference event on Monday.

    All told it was an impressive display of both how far AI has come, and how many different ways that the technology could be applied. At the same time, it raised a few potentially disturbing questions.

    Most notably, it seems clear that we’re all inevitably going to end up having quite a few AI-enabled devices within our homes. While that’s great on one hand, there’s no clear way to share that intelligence and capability across devices, particularly if they’re made by different companies. The challenge is that just as few ever buy complete home AV stacks from a single vendor for their home theater systems, and few people only buy compute devices from a single vendor running related operating systems, so too is it highly unlikely that we’re going to buy all our AI-enabled smart devices from a single vendor. In other words, we’re likely going to end up having a variety of different products from different vendors, with a high probability that they won’t all seamlessly connect and share information with one another.

    In the case of basic connectivity, a number of those issues will likely be overcome, thanks to advancements in connectivity standards, as well as the abundance of gateway products that can bridge across different standards and protocols. What can’t easily be solved, however, is the sharing of AI-enabled personalization across all these smart devices. The result is that several different types of devices will be collecting data about how we interact them, what our habits and preferences are, etc. Not only does that mean a lot of the efforts will be redundant, but concerns about being personally tracked or monitored feel (and are) a lot worse when multiple companies are going to end up doing it simultaneously within our own homes.

    Down the road, there may be an opportunity to create standards for sharing personalization information and other types of AI-generated data from our smart connected devices to avoid some of these issues. In the meantime, however, there are some very legitimate Orwellian-type concerns that need to be considered as companies blindly (and redundantly) follow their own approaches for collecting the kind of information they need to make their products more personal and more effective.

    Bob O’Donnell is the founder and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a technology consulting and market research firm. You can follow him on Twitter . This article was originally published on Tech.pinions.

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  2. OutlawCecil

    OutlawCecil TS Guru Posts: 525   +375

    True AI doesn't exist still. It's fine.
  3. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,586   +274

    People who are worried about AI are people who don't understand AI.

    AI itself is not a concern, and is unrelated to any Orwellian future. Companies collect date without AI and hackers can hack devices, which is more of a problem than anything that an AI will do.
  4. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,930   +3,304

    Well, the more anyone or anything thinks for you, the less you have to think for yourself. Your brain, like cny other part of your body, needs "exercise", vis a vis, mental stimulation.

    If your mother does all your math homework for you, you're going to fail your next math exam, unless mom is in school sitting next to you.

    The amount of control and need for individual thought that modern man is willing to cede to machines in the name of, "convenience", is truly frightening..

    Amazon and Google are particularly treacherous in this regard. Amazon gives you buttons to stick on things, routing your purchases to therm. And then there's Alexa. Now you've invited both of the most ruthless of corporate tracking entities into your home, to sit around the dinner table with you, listening to the most private thoughts of your family.

    Allegedly, the more educated and affluent man becomes, the less his need for God becomes. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be working out like that. We've simply traded "God" for a partly eaten Apple, and pray to the iPhone instead.

    In fact, they've hijacked the story of Adam's "enlightenment", and inadvertently placed themselves in the role of god, via their logo. The population at large seems too dumbfounded to realize they're actually the snake.:eek:

    (Sorry about the religious metaphors, but that's what's going on).
    wiyosaya likes this.
  5. Danny101

    Danny101 TS Guru Posts: 529   +201

    One popular group of AI devices will not be used in my house: Alexa, Siri, and the like. Spy devices period.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  6. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,070   +1,548

    IF I happen to buy a device for my home that contains and IoT function, I will disable it, whether it contains AI or not. I don't need IoT, I don't want IoT, and IoT is a gateway waiting to be hacked, IMO. As I see it, these companies are just jumping on the fad without regard to the security of their customers. My bet is that it will not be all that long before we hear of the next IoT hack going public.
    captaincranky likes this.
  7. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,930   +3,304

    @wiyosaya I want to see someone hack Kohler's intelligent toilet, and turn the bidet water to full hot. I'd bet the recipient of that message wouldn't want another internet connected device for as long as they limped through the rest of their life.
  8. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,070   +1,548

    @captaincranky - Certainly sounds like a fun prank - within the limits of doing no harm of course.

    Another fun prank might be taking over someone's Roomba, or taking over someone's smart speaker, playing spooky sounds, and making their lights flicker!

    Uh-oh! Now you got me going! ;)
  9. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,930   +3,304

    @wiyosaya How about setting every channel of their "smart TV", to Jimmy Swaggart reruns?
    wiyosaya likes this.
  10. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,366   +1,390

    Interesting: Ai vs Personalization Profiling. These are quite different aspects of iOT, but on the whole, the gathering of usage and personalization IS disturbing.
  11. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,930   +3,304

    You know, we're not altogether that far away from being in the town square shouting, "hail big brother', at the telescreen as it is.
    The only thing left to know, is who, "big brother", turns out to be.:eek:

    Potential "big brothers" in the mix, Kim jon Un, Elon Musk, Satya Nadella, Jeff Bezos, Vladimir Putin.....(I could go on, but mercifully won't).
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
  12. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,070   +1,548

    @captaincranky Now that really would cause harm! LOL
  13. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,366   +1,390

    That was shown in the 1984 Apple advert, but the viewer threw a hammer into the screen.
    captaincranky and wiyosaya like this.
  14. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,930   +3,304

    I don't recall ever seeing that ad. That doesn't mean I didn't see it, and managed to sublimate it..:confused: Plus the fact 1984 was one of the seminal years in the life of the modern, in home, PC. In point of fact, Wiki tells me the "first real home PC", the IBM 5150, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Personal_Computer dates to 1981.

    Before that, there were home computers such as Tandy's legendary "Trash 80", Commodore's 64 & and later "128" variant. But these were largely irrelevant as compared to the IBM introduction.

    My point being, (yes I actually think I have one), is how Apple's "apparent denial" differs widely from a long held snippet of folk wisdom. Which would be, "the first sign of being crazy is denying it". Which is easily expanded to, "the first sign of being anything, is denying it".

    If you've ever read James Clavell's "Shogun", you'd know that after a 1000+ pages of denying he wanted that title, Lord Toranaga, became "Shogun", supreme ruler of Japan.

    Other than a few stragglers such as Kim Jon Un of North Korea, the world's people's have realized that military conquest is a transient solution to real control of people's hearts and minds.

    Modern business leaders, (who are sociopaths, make no mistake about that), have long realized the the pathway to control and wealth, is to make life easy for us lazy Plebians, to love them, give them all our money, and now finally, to coerce us to invite them into our families, with siege devices, (weapons), such as "Alexa".

    In the case of Apple, it makes perfect sense for them to deny wanting to become "big brother", while clandestinely planning for that potential eventuality.

    The iSheep standing in line for days to get the latest iPhone, (Hail Apple, grant us thy servants, thy wisdom and largess!), should be proof positive of that.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018

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