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5 Ways You've Already Used Artificial Intelligence

March 16,2021

Artificial intelligence is now widespread enough that you actually come into contact with it every day without knowing it. Besides fueling 8-hour Netflix binges, here are some other ways it's been supporting your lifestyle in everyday moments.

To some, “Artificial intelligence” sounds like an intimidating term associated with sci-fi films and tech enthusiasts. What many don’t know is that it’s widespread enough that most folks with smartphones and TVs are using it nearly every day, making it an integral part of our everyday lives.

Businesses all over the world have been using artificial intelligence, particularly with machine learning, for years to automate processes, make sales predictions, and various other forms of assistance in order to get their products to the shops and warehouses for you to buy. But a lot of your interactions with AI are much more direct than that. Here are some ways you’ve engaged with AI for everyday tasks:

 

Ridesharing apps determining price, matching you with passengers, and figuring out your ETA.

Ever wondered how Uber so quickly calculates that it’ll cost $30 to get to that swanky new restaurant on the other side of town...and how it knows you’ll arrive around 7:30 pm after you’ve finally caved in and ordered a ride? And if you’re taking an Uber Pool, how the app figures out how to pick up the right person who’s getting dropped off at a Panera Bread along the way that doesn’t require any time-consuming detours? That’s right, AI. These algorithms calculate the aforementioned by factoring in your location, your destination’s location, and how long others have typically taken to arrive there.

 

Email filters.

“Sorry, your email actually went to my spam!” is a popular excuse for not returning someone’s emails, because it actually happens. AI is the reason why those sketchy emails with an inordinate amount of exclamation points and 90’s aesthetic aren’t right next to the completely legitimate payment confirmation email for your electricity bill. That’s because artificial intelligence has been finely honed to detect seedy and spammy emails throughout years of “lose 10 pounds in 5 days!!!!” being more strongly associated with viruses rather than life-changing diet tips. Your mailbox’s algorithms are designed to pick up on subtle cues like that as well as the more clear-cut signals like “I am a Nigerian prince…”

You’ve also noticed that some of your emails are automatically labeled as important, even when they’re not. Your mailbox is designed to pick up on cues on what emails you actually need to read, such as a job interview request or your grandma finally emailing you her delectable blueberry cobbler recipe. Since these algorithms aren’t perfect, you can help hone them yourself by manually removing and applying the important label when the AI doesn’t get it right. After it sees you labeling enough Costco promo emails as important and unlabeling your mom’s forwards of “if you don’t send this to 15 people, a banshee will show up in your room at 3 AM”, it’ll “learn” from your actions. This is an example of supervised learning where you are the supervisor.

 

Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook camera lenses and photo tagging.

Ever wondered how those social media camera lenses know exactly where to place cat ears on your head? And how Facebook can identify who’s who in the group photos you’ve just uploaded? The intimidating-sounding force behind this is facial recognition technology. 

Facial recognition is powered by artificial neural networks, which are machine learning algorithms that mimic the structure of the human brain. These networks have multiple layers for input, processing, and output to imitate what goes on in your brain when you’re recognizing a face yourself. Every time you tag your friends in your photos, these layers learn the contours of their faces the way a brain would. So the more you tag yourself and put your own face to your name on Facebook, the more likely it is to identify you in the embarrassing Friday night photos you told your friend not to post.

 

Voice-to-text and virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa

AI doesn’t just read phrases and faces, it can also process auditory commands through something called natural language processing (NLP). NLP is pretty much what it sounds like: the ability for a machine to process natural human language like a human being would. This is accomplished with neural networks that learn to match “Alexa, play Despacito five times” to the proper actions.  Here’s a video detailing how they work to help you order items, set reminders, play music, and answer all kinds of questions.

 

Shopping and media suggestions based on your previous activities

When you shop on Amazon and other e-commerce sites, sometimes you’ll see product recommendations. Those aren’t arbitrary: Amazon uses neural networks to deliver personalized recommendations using data from your purchase and search history. In the e-commerce world in general, product recommendations can increase conversions by up to 30%! That’s not too surprising, as many of us have found products that way that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. 

Other everyday platforms with AI-powered recommendations are video streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. Netflix’s powerful algorithms crunch your previous searches and watches to personally categorize your feed, going beyond the basic genres of comedy, horror, or adventure. That’s why you might see unusually specific categories called “Talking Animal Movies” or “Fantasy Films with Strong Female Lead” when you log into your friend's Netflix account. Now you know their taste in films! 

Netflix also understands that not everyone follows “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” and even personalizes the selection thumbnails to better catch your eye. 

Now what? 

Now that you have a better understanding of how AI is boosting your personal life, it should be no surprise that it’s got plenty of perks for businesses. As you’ve probably realized in our previous examples, AI can increase conversions, help customers discover new possibilities in a personalized way, and even protect people from threats. It opens up new doors to better connect and engage with your customers and give your brand a tremendous boost. 

Even if you aren’t as famous as Uber, Netflix, or Amazon, there’s still plenty of opportunities for your business to leverage the power of artificial intelligence. Just hit us up and we’ll schedule a consultation to see how we can kick off a personalized digital transformation that’ll have your customers more engaged than ever.