The future is now: 5 ideas AI took from sci-fi

From Minority Report to The Jetsons, today's artificial intelligence draws from familiar favorites.

 

Our world is quickly closing in on the vision of the "space age" future. The biggest trends in technology, from self-driving cars to smart houses, feel like a sci-fi movie come to life. Many of these incredible experiences are made possible by advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI), which empowers the devices and apps we use everyday to gather information and learn as they go.

Even though they were recently just ideas from science fiction, five new AI-powered technologies are already changing the status quo for home, work and travel.

1. Cars that drive themselves

In the 1960s cartoon The Jetsons, George Jetson flew to work in a “car” that handled the driving while he relaxed. Levitation aside, today’s vehicle navigation technology is not far off. Self-driving cars on the market today can handle driving tasks entirely, managing the trip while passengers focus on entertainment and other tasks. They use AI to interpret a wide range of sensory information—from traffic and weather patterns to the presence of other drivers—to make intelligent decisions to get their passengers home safely.

2. Personally tailored recommendations

The 2002 sci-fi thriller Minority Report turned facial recognition into a nightmare for Tom Cruise, tracking his every move and serving him ads along the way. But, what if merely 15 years after that movie was made, AI could actually use deep learning to recognize all sort of items, to help you find exactly what you want? Identifying the patterns that emerge from billions of searches, online retailers can predict the products you’re looking for and suggest ones with features you’ll probably like.

3. Personal assistants in every home

Back to The Jetsons—Rosie the Robot made everything easier for George, Judy and the kids by cleaning, scheduling and providing companionship. What The Jetsons didn’t imagine 50 years ago was that non-human helpers would be closer in size to a soda can than a maid.  Today’s AI-powered assistants listen to their surroundings, using voice recognition to answer questions conversationally  and controlling environmental elements like music and temperature in the home. And just like Rosie, some can even call a taxi or order a pizza..

4. Smart health and wellness tracking 

Star Trek’s doctors had the Tricorder, a handheld device that scanned patients’ vitals and spit out a diagnosis. While today’s devices can’t yet tell if you have the flu they can still help manage your health and wellness. AI-powered devices monitor physical data, from sleep patterns to sweat and pulse, to interpret how users are feeling. . Analyzing these trends over time, the apps can make informed suggestions to help build healthy habits.

5. News you can use

When Marty McFly traveled to 2015 in Back to the Future II, newspaper stories were published not by journalists, but a roving robot reporter named Compu-Fax. Turns out, this technology has become reality right on schedule. Today, news bots can be plugged into a data source and use AI to write articles that sound so human most readers can’t tell the difference.

 

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