Today, May 17th, is World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 2018, a global event overseen by the UN dedicated to raising awareness of the benefits the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can provide for countries and their citizens.
World Telecommunication Day was first celebrated in 1969 and marks the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and the founding of the International Telecommunication Union all the way back in 1865.
This year’s theme is ‘Enabling the positive use of Artificial Intelligence for All’, one which focuses on how AI technology such as machine learning and Big Data are being used to vastly improve key industries including healthcare, transportation, education and more.
While artificial intelligence once seemed like the far-flung dream of futurists and science fiction authors, remarkable progress has been made in this area over the past decade and we are now starting to see AI technologies in a number of consumer products.
Take smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S9, which features an AI-powered virtual assistant named Bixby, or the iPhone 8 and its virtual assistant Siri: both Bixby and Siri are capable of understanding and answering a plethora of questions in addition to completing a variety of actions ranging from checking basic information like the weather to scheduling events, reading the news and calling and texting contacts on your behalf.
These forms of artificial intelligence are proving incredibly popular with users and their creators are making them available in more and more products such as smartwatches like the Apple Watch 3 (Siri again), laptops like the Lenovo Ideapad (Microsoft’s AI assistant Cortana) and smart speakers (Google Home, Sonos One, Amazon Echo etc.).
While the artificial intelligence used in consumer products today is quite limited in scope compared to how it’s used in industrial applications, it’s highly likely that we’ll start to see the introduction of more powerful AI into everyday life over the next decade or two to the benefit of all.