Anyone who’s ever watched movies where artificial intelligence (AI) plays a key role might have a reason to fear it. There are dozens of “technology gone wrong” examples in books and movies, but they are strictly imaginative works of science fiction, with an emphasis on fiction.
You may not realize it, but AI is already deeply embedded in society. Many of the tools and technologies people use every day have an AI component to them. So, although some people fear the technology will take over the world or be the downfall of society, it has actually helped us move forward in many ways.
AI in industry
Dozens of industries rely on AI for day-to-day functions, including transportation, which relies on AI for mapping and alternative routes. In the healthcare industry, robotic surgeons — with assistance from human medical staff — perform minor and life-saving operations daily. AI and robotics are also common in most large manufacturing centers. Most of the cars built over the last decade were assembled to some degree by artificially intelligent robots.
AI at home
Citizens regularly use AI, and most aren’t even aware of it. If you’ve ever verbally asked a question to your phone or a home speaker, you’ve engaged with AI. The same applies if you’re typing an email or text and words are auto-populated.
Other examples are so subtle, we rarely notice. For example, have you ever wondered how your favorite streaming TV service knows you might enjoy a particular show? Maybe you’ve streamed the latest hit song and your streaming service plays a similar tune or something else by a related artist. These things aren’t coincidental; they are the product of AI algorithms that determine our likes, dislikes, and preferences.
AI in public safety
With its increasing prevalence in the private sector, AI in the public safety arena was inevitable. AI’s capabilities are used for everything from gunshot detection to measuring health metrics of first responders. One of the most important, however, is that of a second set of eyes, whether figurative (assistive, real-time insights) or literal (unmanned aerial vehicles and robots).
Law enforcement agencies have realized the value of drones and robots in recent years as they provide tactical commanders with a closer look at situations deemed too dangerous for human officers. Robots, equipped with high-definition cameras, not only have the ability to locate a bomb, but some can also disable the device.
Camera-equipped UAVs allow public safety personnel to get a literal bird’s eye view of a dangerous situation, whether it be an active shooter or a potentially deadly fire. Public safety organizations also use drones to fly into disaster areas in an attempt to survey damage and find victims and survivors.
Autonomous vs. assistive AI
Just as AI helps first responders in the field make critical, timely decisions, it can also provide real-time insights to call-takers and dispatchers in emergency communications centers. Assistive tools that leverage AI and machine learning don’t make decisions, but instead, help personnel see the unseen by providing relevant insights that often precede complex emergencies.
When integrated with a computer-aided dispatch system, the latest assistive AI tools work autonomously in the background to uncover links and find connections between historic and live data. This is important because call-takers and/or dispatchers don’t work 24/7, nor do they take every call. This creates operational blind spots and results in missed connections. But dispatch tools that leverage assistive AI provide a second set of eyes.
Additionally, because they are integrated within a computer-aided dispatch system, relevant alerts appear on the dispatch screen and give the call-taker or dispatcher the ability to review, act on, and share the alert with decision-makers.
Though some may fear a world where technology guides every part of our daily lives, assistive AI is providing humans with the relevant information necessary to make decisions that not only improve lives, but also helps save them.
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