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How AI is becoming more human-like with senses

Thursday 16 August 2018

When we’re talking about AI we tend to speak in terms of intelligence and learning. Algorithms feeding data into AI systems to make them smarter and faster, and so on.

What we rarely do is use the language of the senses. Sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch are something we naturally prescribe to organic, sentient beings like ourselves. However, how an AI system perceives the world around it, and interprets that data is the next frontier of AI research, and future applications could revolutionise innumerable fields and sectors.  

AI systems are efficient in recognising patterns, so a “seeing” AI could be used to extract data from medical images like MRIs and X-Rays. Cross-referencing this data with that of previously seen images, the AI could help make recommendations on the progress of a patient’s treatment or worsening of the condition.

Hearing AI, amongst other things, could help with home security. A system could interpret the difference between a friendly dog bark and an aggressive one, alerting the absent homeowner that there may be trouble at home.

AI with ultra-sensitive smell could detect tiny particles of pollutants or toxic gases in the air, controlling airflow automatically inside buildings. Alternatively, they could be used by environmentalists to more precisely monitor air pollution levels.

What good is an AI with taste? For one, it could create complex flavour pairings to excite our taste buds.  Or, in an industry like mass tea production, where consistency of blend and taste is paramount, could be used to make sure every cuppa is as good as the one that came before.

With advances in infrared and haptic feedback technologies, cognitive senses could soon interpret and simulate textures. Imagine shopping for clothing on your smartphone, and the screen’s texture changes to simulate how the garment feels. This may sound like Sci-Fi, but it’s a likely reality.

These are just a small handful of the applications that sensing AI could spearhead. In fact, there are a number of companies who are already pioneering this technology, which will make machines truly smart.  

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