5 ways artificial intelligence could shape our lives


Tech evangelists are usually overflowing with enthusiasm about the potential of artificial intelligence to transform our lives, and the crowds at this year’s Web Summit were no exception.

Here are five uses of AI showcased at one of the world’s biggest tech conferences, which returned to Lisbon this week after the 2020 edition was canceled due to the pandemic.

– Health care –

When Iker Casillas learned of a startup that uses AI to better detect irregular heartbeats, he quickly signed up as an investor.

The Spanish football legend suffered a heart attack in 2019, bringing his career to an abrupt end.

Madrid-based company Idoven analyzes data from home heart monitoring kits to track people’s heart health – and most importantly, to signal impending problems.

“We are the first company in the world capable of doing this,” CEO Manuel Marina-Breysse told AFP.

AI is also used by a growing number of mental health startups.

Woebot, a chatbot that people can use to ease their anxieties, tailors its responses based on an AI-informed read of the person’s emotional state.

“If someone is in distress or if they are not really feeling well, Woebot will invite them to work on it, or just to relieve them,” said its founder Alison Darcy, a clinical research psychologist.

Some may find the idea of ​​giving their hearts to a chatbot overwhelming, but the Silicon Valley startup points to studies suggesting that people sometimes prefer to confide in a robot without judgment.

– Cutting waste –

AI is not a direct victory for the climate.

Training a single-algorithm system can use up to five times the emissions produced by a car over its lifetime, according to researchers at the University of Massachusetts.

But AI is also improving the efficiency of a wide range of industrial processes, from cement production to cooling data centers.

It could also be used to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill.

British startup Greyparrot uses AI to recognize different types of trash that goes down a conveyor belt, better selecting recyclables from plastic to glass than the machines typically used today.

– Safer roads –

Could AI stop road accidents? Irish startup Provizio is developing technology that uses machine learning to analyze data from sensors attached to a car.

In time, its founder Barry Lunn hopes that emergency braking systems will be able to activate 10 times faster than before.

– Code writing –

The age of AI that avoids the need for human help and writes its own computer code is closer than you might think.

One initiative that caused a sensation in Lisbon this week was Copilot, a joint project of the software development platform GitHub and the OpenAI research lab.

The tool can automatically complete pieces of code, understanding the intentions of the human software engineer.

But researchers at New York University suggest that computers still need us: About 40% of the time, the code still has bugs.

– Counterfeits –

The last few years have seen a growing concern about deepfake technology, in which surprisingly realistic likenesses of living people can be made to act as the creator sees fit.

Deepfakes appear to show actor Tom Cruise has gone viral this year, prompting new questions as to whether the technology could be used for fraud or even political manipulation.

Reface, an American startup founded by Ukrainians, wants to use AI deepfake for more fun purposes, allowing the user to swap Justin Bieber’s head, or Mona Lisa’s, for their own.

But co-founder Ivan Altsybieiev imagines a future where people could laugh at entire remakes of their favorite TV shows, with themselves.

A “future where all content can be personalized,” he told AFP.

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