5 things about AI you may have missed today: AI for companionship, AI consciousness, more

Today, December 22, the artificial intelligence (AI) space is asking us deep, philosophical questions, as new developments point towards its innovative use cases and its internal nature. A talkative robot called ElliQ, created by Intuition Robotics, is helping senior citizens in the US combat loneliness by offering them companionship. AI for companionship is a hotly explored space, and it is something even Elon Musk has talked about. In other news, a coalition of scientists is raising serious questions about the AI consciousness. They say the answers to these questions will shed light on the ethical usage of the technology as well as help us guide AI safety measures.

AI for companionship

Intuition Robotics, an Israel-based tech firm, has recently launched an AI-powered robot called ElliQ, which can listen to users and respond verbally, as per a report by ABC. The company’s robots have been launched in the US, and they have become an important tool to help senior citizens battle their loneliness. These chatty robots are being used by many elderly people, and they spend time having casual conversations. 

As per the report, ElliQ can tell jokes, play music, and even tell motivational quotes. It also comes with a video screen that can help users with exercises, medication, water reminders, and more. 

Scientists worry about AI consciousness

According to a report by the Nature journal, a coalition of scientists is asking questions about the consciousness of AI. The question is simple — does AI have a consciousness and understand us? 

In comments to the United Nations, the Association for Mathematical Consciousness Science (AMCS) urges increased funding for research on consciousness and AI. They emphasize the urgency of scientific exploration into the boundaries between conscious and unconscious systems, citing ethical, legal, and safety concerns related to AI consciousness. The AMCS highlights the need to address issues such as whether people should have the authority to turn off conscious AI systems after use. Notably, these concerns have been overlooked in recent AI safety discussions, including the AI Safety Summit in the United Kingdom and President Joe Biden’s executive order on responsible AI development.

Dallas airport using AI to return lost luggage to travelers

Mikha Sabu and a team at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport use AI to enhance their lost and found services, reported CBS News. Despite over 18,000 items reported lost annually, approximately 90% are returned to owners with the help of AI. The process involves passengers reporting missing items with details, and the AI software matches these details with found items through pictures and descriptions, ensuring successful item recovery for the owners.

AI tool for nerve disorder screening

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru, in collaboration with Aster-CMI Hospital, have created an AI tool capable of detecting carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), reports PTI. The tool uses ultrasound videos to identify the median nerve, which, when compressed at the wrist’s carpal tunnel, causes symptoms such as numbness, tingling, or pain. CTS is a prevalent nerve-related disorder, particularly affecting individuals engaged in repetitive hand movements, such as office workers using keyboards, assembly line workers, and athletes.

India boosts AI in weather forecasts

India is experimenting with AI to develop climate models for enhanced weather forecasting amid rising instances of torrential rains, floods, and droughts across the country, as per a report by Reuters. The increasing intensity of weather clashes due to global warming has led to a surge in extreme weather events, resulting in nearly 3,000 deaths this year, as estimated by the Centre for Science and Environment. Weather agencies globally are turning to AI for its potential to reduce costs and enhance speed, with the British Met Office noting that AI could “revolutionize” weather forecasting, as demonstrated by a recent Google-funded model outperforming traditional methods.

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