Automation was a major theme at CES 2015. But some worry how beneficial advanced artificial intelligence will prove to be for the human race
The annual international Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has a reputation for introducing trend setting, bleeding-edge technologies and gadgets that tend to wow the socks off of anyone. Without a doubt, there were many futuristic products ranging from virtual reality and smart appliances to ultra high-definition TVs at the CES in Las Vegas last January, but it was clearly evident to me that overall, the show’s focus has changed.
For most vendors exhibiting their wares, the focus was on evolutionary advances in technology rather than revolutionary changes (and no, Star Trek fans, there was no holodeck on display).
That was the consensus of the experts and I tend to agree with that point of view. There weren’t a whole lot of new, mind-blowing technologies. In general, CES provided a peek at the evolution of the products we already use daily. That’s not to say the tech show was dull. On the contrary, there were several impressive developments that stood out.
Connectivity was a major theme at the show but so too was automation. The goal of tech vendors is to make our lives easier, but it leads one to wonder how far along the development curve we are with artificial intelligence (AI). For instance, smart homes, devices, and appliances that can detect when you walk into a room and they spring into action. As these devices “talk” to each other and become smarter, some industry pundits and scientists worry advanced AI isn’t such a good idea for the human race.
Almost everyone loves a good science-fiction thriller like “I, Robot” or “Terminator,” and as far-fetched as those films may seem, there’s genuine concern some day the idea of computers dictating terms to the human race might happen if we develop AI that truly has the ability to compete with human consciousness. Or does it enable the fabled James Bond type of villain who could manipulate financial markets or the electricity grid?
On the whole, there were many smart devices and technologies at the CES that will prove beneficial to consumers in the near term. For example, the Nest Learning Thermostat can help them save money and use less energy in your home.
It’ll be interesting to see what technology vendors have on display at CES 2016, and how much more advanced AI will be. Will computers and smart devices soon have the capability to think and act independently? Is that a good idea? It’s worth thinking about.
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