Whichever side of the artificial intelligence (AI) argument you sit on – whether that be the inevitable robot uprising or helping make the world a safer (or at least more convenient) place – the rise of everyday AI is a reality. It is most likely the future, and it’s best we know as much about it as possible to prepare.
With this in mind, a panel of academics hosted by Stanford University has put together a study looking ahead to the year 2030 to forecast how advances in AI will affect everyday urban life, with the aim of sparking an open discussion about the safe and positive development of these rapidly progressing technologies.
The study, titled "Artificial Intelligence and Life in 2030", is the first investigation to come out of the "One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence" (AI100) project, a century-long study launched in 2014 in an effort to understand and anticipate how AI will affect people through all aspects of their everyday life in the future.
The project is the brainchild of Eric Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft Research’s lab and Stanford alumnus. He wanted to create a platform for informed social discussion and guidance on the ethical implications of developing smart technologies through a standing committee of scientists and academic thinkers, who will periodically produce reports on the current state of AI development over the next 100 years.
"We believe specialized AI applications will become both increasingly common and more useful by 2030, improving our economy and quality of life," said Peter Stone of the University of Texas at Austin and chair of the 17-member panel of international experts in a statement. "But this technology will also create profound challenges, affecting jobs and incomes and other issues that we should begin addressing now to ensure that the benefits of AI are broadly shared."
The report focuses on eight areas where artificial intelligence will be applied, five of which include the practical application of innovative software, such as transport, health care, and of course robots. The other three are focusing on the impact of such technologies, like the potential for mass unemployment and general public safety and security.
The authors predict that by 2030, autonomous cars and aerial delivery vehicles will have changed the way we travel and shop, while service robots that clean and provide security will be commonplace at both home and work. Social media will engage with people at an increasingly sophisticated and personal level, while cameras, drones, and software will be able to analyze crime patterns with more speed and accuracy.
Practical applications are already in the works, with driverless cars and unmanned autonomous vehicles (drones) deep in development, while robot-assisted surgery and increasingly sophisticated virtual reality are hints of things to come.
According to the report, there are currently in the US at least 16 separate agencies that govern sectors of the economy related to AI technologies. "Who is responsible when a self-driven car crashes or an intelligent medical device fails?” the authors write. “How can AI applications be prevented from [being used for] racial discrimination or financial cheating?"
"Until now, most of what is known about AI comes from science fiction books and movies," Stone added. "This study provides a realistic foundation to discuss how AI technologies are likely to affect society."
It's only a matter of time. Mopic/Shutterstock