Silvabrand | What AI Can Do For Us
Silva Brand

What AI Can Do For Us

Nov 30, 2022 | by Team Silva
3 min

For some, the term “Artificial Intelligence” (AI) might evoke thoughts of futuristic, ill-intentioned automatons a la the Man in Black from Westworld or HAL (Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer) in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: a Space Odyssey. But what if that understanding of AI is misguided? What if technology that is smart and capable is facilitating our wellbeing and progress at this very moment? According to Forbes, “AI empowers organizations, governments and communities to build a high-performing ecosystem to serve the entire world. Its profound impact on human lives is solving some of the most critical challenges faced by society.” And so, companies are emerging that are branding themselves around their ability to use AI not only to do what humans do but also to improve humans’ lives and enterprises in the process. Here’s a look at three brands that have been paving the way for AI that benefits us all.

The company Narrative Science uses AI to look at data that tends to be inscrutable to nonexperts and convert it into more comprehensible prose. The artificial-intelligence company spun out of a lab at Northwestern University, where professors Kristian Hammond and Larry Birnbaum were pioneers in a field called natural-language generation. “We turn data into stories that people can understand,” says Nick Beil, chief operating officer of Narrative Science,” Crain’s Chicago Business writes. “Narrative Science received its first patent in 2010, based on the idea of turning data into both statistics and conversational narratives.” In a 2021 interview with Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute, Narrative Science’s VP of Marketing Katy de Leon at Narrative Sciences, said, “We believe that these systems need to be designed to communicate in the most common way that humans communicate — through language and conversation — or else we’ll be designing systems that are too difficult to use and impossible for us to understand, which will limit adoption.”

When tech powerhouse Tableau bought the cutting-edge tale-generating venture last year, Tableau President and CEO Mark Nelson wrote in a blog post that “it will help us close the data literacy gap, reimagine an entirely new analytics experience, and set people up for success in this digital-first world.”

Like Narrative Science, a robotics brand called Vicarious, which Facebook parent company Alphabet Inc. (now Meta) acquired this year, has broadened the horizons of how AI can help consumers. “Vicarious buys standard industrial robots, enhances them with its software, and contracts them out the way a temp agency does workers, charging per task completed or at an hourly rate,” WIRED writes. “In Baltimore, Vicarious robots assemble sampler packs for makeup company Sephora, work previously done exclusively by humans.” Vicarious robots stand out because they can mimic human cognition. “Vicarious calls the architecture its AI system is based on a ‘recursive cortical network,’ meaning it is modeled along the lines of the human neocortex—the brain’s gray matter that processes information,” according to Scientific American. “This approach allows AI software to learn new things from a few examples, much as a human child comes to understand the world by learning to recognize what he sees and figuring out how the images are connected.”

The robots’ ability to pick up new skills allows them to perform more particular tasks, fulfilling a longstanding need in the work world. “Each robot configured and programmed by Vicarious is done with the specific engagement in mind. So, the robots delivered to Company A have different capacities and capabilities than the ones delivered to Company B because they have different programming,” writes PYMNTS.

Vicarious CEO Scott Phoenix said he sees “global trends like shorter product lifespans, frequent changeovers and direct-to-consumer all intensifying the need for intelligent, flexible robotics. Despite the increasing affordability of robot technology, he saw a missing link and spent the last decade building it — a general AI layer that gives robots human-like dexterity and adaptability to new tasks.”

Just as Narrative Science and Vicarious are creating new opportunities for AI to benefit the public, the British brand DeepMind is using AI to help the scientific world make groundbreaking discoveries. Acquired by Google in 2014, DeepMind’s research covers everything from climate change to health care and finance. “[DeepMind] brings together new ideas and advances in machine learning, neuroscience, engineering, mathematics, simulation and computing infrastructure,” according to AI Magazine. “DeepMind’s founders began working on AI technology by teaching it how to play old video games from the 1970s and ’80s.”

Last year, DeepMind made impressive progress in how scientists study the proverbial building blocks of life. “An artificial intelligence (AI) network … has made a gargantuan leap in solving one of biology’s grandest challenges — determining a protein’s 3D shape from its amino-acid sequence,” Nature reports. “In some cases, [DeepMind’s offshoot] AlphaFold’s structure predictions were indistinguishable from those determined using ‘gold standard’ experimental methods such as X-ray crystallography and, in recent years, cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). AlphaFold might not obviate the need for these laborious and expensive methods — yet — say scientists, but the AI will make it possible to study living things in new ways.”

DeepMind, Vicarious and Narrative Science are proof of the present-day benefits of AI, and their emergence is part of a larger trend of AI’s ubiquity and importance in our daily lives. “Artificial intelligence (AI) has come a long way very quickly – so quickly, in fact, that the public perception of AI remains heavily influenced by its portrayal on television or in movies, even as its real-life capabilities have begun to match and even exceed many of those depictions,” writes Security Info Watch. "It does mean that working with artificial intelligence technology is no longer the exclusive practice it once was.”