Artificial Intelligence: The Monster Under the Bed

By Antonio Luis

When people think of Artificial Intelligence (AI), they think of what they’ve seen in movies like “The Matrix”, “Terminator 2”, and “iRobot”. I hate to burst your bubble but, as cool those movies are, that’s not what AI is or how it’s being used today. AI is not some scary robot trying to rule humanity or take over our lives. AI is being used in the background for everything and the way AI is used in our daily lives may surprise you. 

A vast majority of Americans now own a cellphone of some kind. According to a study done by Pew Research Center in April of 2021, 85% of us own a smartphone. It’s safe to say that many of you reading this have a smartphone on you right now. Let me ask you a few questions. Does your phone have face unlock? Does your device have a fingerprint sensor? Do you use Google, or Siri, or Alexa? Do you use social media, email, talk to text, predictive text, spell check, or your cell phones camera? That’s all powered by AI. A machine is said to have AI if it can interpret data, learn from this data, and use this data to adapt and achieve a specific goal. In usage cases such as our cellphones, AI is being used in the background for everything and we don’t even realize it.

When you take a picture on your phone, AI decides how to set the lighting and pic the appropriate color algorithms to ensure colors look nice and accurate. Face recognition uses AI to recognize the shape and structure of your face to unlock or not unlock your device. When you use a fingerprint sensor on your phone, it is AI that analyzes the data to decide if it is your fingerprint or not. When you use talk to text, it is AI that takes the data and recognizes what word you said. When you start typing something into Google search and it finishes the search for you, that’s AI. When you are scrolling through Facebook and you see that ad of something you were just talking about, creepy I know, that all generated by AI. AI is all about utilizing data, learning from this data, and applying it to whatever needs, or wants, for us as consumers and companies alike. AI is being utilized in more and more aspects of our lives and it continues to expand and grow with us. 

The development of AI is increasing at a rapid rate because it coincides with the development of technology. With the advancements in technology, we see AI being developed in more creative ways and implemented into our daily lives without many of us knowing. Tech companies like Qualcomm are at the forefront of both technological advancements and AI implementations. Just this past weekend Qualcomm hosted their annual Snapdragon Tech Summit in Hawaii where they unveil their latest and greatest chip sets, coupled with all the new features their chips are capable of. At the center of it all was AI and it will be utilizing it to enrich our lives.

As a Snapdragon Insider I was allowed special access to employees from the company, and I had the pleasure of interviewing Qualcomm Project Managers Ziad Asghar and Judd Heape about the AI innovations introduced in their latest generations of Snapdragon chips during the summit. Ziad Asghar said, “AI has enabled so much that would not generally be possible on a device that fits in the palm of your hand. AI does not only enhance the use cases that we already have, but also evolve them in was that was not possible in the past. We started with speech and audio, later on we’ve done a lot more with camera and video, and we are now doing more with graphics and security.” That last word rang heavily in my ear, because like the stuff we see in the movies, it is only natural to fear what machines can be doing with all our information. 

During the Tech summit, Qualcomm showed off their new “always-on” camera tech run by their new AI algorithms on their new chipset that can detect faces while your phone isn’t being used that can unlock your device or hide your notifications if it detects that someone else is snooping over your shoulder looking at your phone. This feature raised some concerns with tech journalists and tech enthusiasts on twitter about whether the always on camera can be used to spy on users. I asked Judd Heape, VP of product management at Qualcomm, who works directly with the camera division about this, and he said, “With the advancements in our Snapdragon Chips and our dedicated AI engines, we have implemented security measures to ensure our technologies won’t be used in any malicious way. The always on camera feature will be accessing a separate low power chip that will only detect facial data, and this data never leaves the secure sensing hub while looking for faces.” 

AI can be scary, especially to those that don’t know how it works or how it functions. AI is currently being developed for consumers to use and enjoy so we can get the most out of our products, as well as for companies and businesses to implement in various ways. Four months ago, in an interview on YouTube titled “The Future of Artificial Intelligence” Ziad Asghar said, “We actually attached a small lens on top of the camera of a smartphone and we could actually figure out if people have diabetic retinopathy.” In this interview he also states they have developed AI that can recognize a sound in the middle of the night that can potentially raise an alarm. He also said, “We have all these technologies capturing all this data and information, but no one can make any sense of it. But with AI we can finally make sense of this information.” 

As technology advances, so will AI. As we become aware of more use cases, AI will continue to improve on all the things we do in our lives on a daily basis. AI is happening now. It is not an imaginary thing that only happens in movies. It’s not a Terminator or a Matrix of machines trying to rule the world. AI is being created to enrich our lives and do things we never dreamed possible some of which are right in the palm of our hands. I can use my mobile phone to translate what I’m saying into another language and vise versa. This wouldn’t be possible without AI. As scary as our imaginations might make things, it is just like a child afraid of the dark, or a monster under the bed. It’s the fear of the unknown that scares us, not the reality of the truth. The reality of this truth is that AI comes from the imagination of fearless individuals doing what they can to better our lives through technology. 


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