Plus, here come the smart socks.
Snapchat users recently noticed that the social media platform’s chatbot, powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT technology, posted a mysterious story seemingly of its own accord. The story featured two color blocks divided by a diagonal line, leading to speculation about its meaning. Users who contacted the chatbot about the post received vague responses or were ignored. Snapchat’s support page on Twitter acknowledged the issue but initially did not provide a clear explanation. Later, they responded to complaints, stating that the chatbot had experienced a temporary outage. On Snapchat’s support page, warning messages noted that the chatbot’s responses may include biased, incorrect, harmful, or misleading content. The March launch of the feature had already prompted safety concerns, as the chatbot had previously provided questionable advice about subjects such as alcohol and deception. Snapchat claims the chatbot is programmed to abide by certain guidelines to minimize harm, including avoiding offensive or explicit responses.
Researchers at the University of California Berkeley have used AI to reconstruct a Pink Floyd song from electrical activity in the brains of 29 epileptic patients. The research was chosen to understand better how the brain processes music and will be used to develop better brain-machine interfaces for those unable to speak. The technology could affect many patients with speech disorders, stroke, and ALS sufferers. As brain recording technology improves, transmitting thoughts through scalp electrodes may be possible. The technology could also have applications for those without medical conditions, allowing them to interact with computers and other devices more easily.
AI chatbots could be used to offer feedback on essays and provide guidance on writing skills, according to Bill Gates. During an episode of his “Unconfuse Me” podcast with Sal Khan, the Microsoft co-founder, and philanthropist said that current software programs were ineffective at teaching reading and writing. Although Gates stopped short of suggesting that AI should replace human teachers, he said that chatbots could assist overworked educators and address educational inequalities. However, AI tutoring programs would need input from teachers to ensure they were implemented appropriately. Some AI tutors already exist, such as Khanmigo, developed by Khan Academy, which uses OpenAI’s ChatGPT tool. The program can walk students through problem-solving steps but needs to be more quick to provide answers.
Using AI in job searches and applications is beneficial for non-native English speakers and small businesses. Upwardly Global, a nonprofit organization, is helping immigrants and refugees with internationally recognized degrees or work experience restart their careers by providing career training and AI tools. Carlos Cabrera, who arrived in the U.S. from Venezuela in 2019, used AI to help craft well-written cover letters matching his skills to job descriptions. As a result, Cabrera secured a job as a project manager. Research conducted by MIT’s Sloan School of Management found that job seekers who utilized AI in their applications were more likely to be hired and earned higher wages compared to those who didn’t use AI. Additionally, small businesses are also leveraging AI to boost efficiency and productivity. AI can help in tasks such as creating brochures and presentations, saving time for employees to focus on other work. Despite job displacement concerns, experts believe AI will ultimately create more jobs and benefit everyone.
Amazon and other online bookstores are being spammed with AI-generated pseudo-books that sometimes use real authors’ names. Often, AI-generated titles are filled with unreliable information and inauthentic writing. This fraudulent practice mainly targets travel guides and self-help books. While buyer reviews can help distinguish between genuine and fake books, AI-generated posts have now started to skew ratings. Amazon has clear guidelines regarding which books can be listed for sale on its platform, but it has faced accusations of violating intellectual property rights and disappointing customers. However, the company does have “zero tolerance for fake reviews.” Nonetheless, the rise of AI-generated fake books poses a new challenge for authors and publishers. It could also harm the AI industry if too much training data for AI systems is AI-generated.
The construction industry increasingly adopts AI tools such as drones, cameras, apps, and robots to improve project efficiency and reduce timelines. While AI cannot yet construct buildings on its own, these technologies are being used to track and improve project performance. Helmet-mounted cameras capture footage to orchestrate the arrival of new crews and materials, while precise sensors detect deviations from project blueprints. Machine learning models are used to analyze data and predict project progress, offering substantial accuracy, speed, and efficiency improvements. Start-ups like nPlan and Buildots use complex algorithms and wearable cameras to map project progress and tackle inefficiencies. Construction firms invest in their in-house technology, using proprietary software and management programs to cut development time. Despite concerns about AI accuracy, the construction industry sees the potential for AI to enhance worker productivity and improve safety on job sites.
According to doctors, AI is being used in some US hospitals to detect breast cancer at an early stage, potentially years before it would be found on a traditional scan. Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Exeter and start-up Milbotix have created AI-powered “SmartSocks” to help dementia patients live more independently. The socks monitor patients’ heart rate, sweat levels, and movement to prevent falls and enable carers to spot signs of distress before the patient’s well-being is affected. The collected data is sent to an app that alerts caregivers. The SmartSocks do not need to be recharged and can be machine washed. The University of Exeter is investigating socks’ benefits for dementia patients.