7 AI Takeaways from the Mobile World Congress 2018

3 min read

If you eagerly followed the Mobile World Congress 2018 coverage over the past week or so you’ll be no stranger to the words “Artificial Intelligence” or AI. Barcelona has been host to everything from homegrown voice-activated, personal sales assistant applications to actual robotic, classroom teaching assistants (meet Pepper).

Our man on the ground, Jordi Capdevila, has kindly offered to share his thoughts about how the most innovative companies are approaching AI, the ideas behind its application and why some consider it the “3rd revolution”.

1. People should learn what machines can and can’t do

One big takeaway from the MWC18 and 4YFN is that there’s a steep learning curve when it comes to AI. Not just in how to communicate and use the technology (addressing a personal sales assistant app, for example) but in educating users on the benefits and reasons behind its real-time application.

The fear and uncertainty often shrouding the term AI has been well documented. An ambiguous role in our futures and the risk posed to certain jobs has frightened many early adopters away. Therefore, it’s extremely important that people be educated on how and why AI can help their daily tasks. Education is the very first rung on the ladder to the successful implementation of AI technology.

2. Voice-recognition tech is on the rise

AI has many, many forms and in 2017 it seemed like proactive recommendations based on contextual information and big data were the be all and end all. However, beyond the obvious benefits such useful information undoubtedly brings (imagine a system that told you which products to sell, to which account and why) this year everything points towards conversational AI and voice-recognition technology.

Siri has been around for a while now (and Alexa too) but this year we’ve witnessed the release of Apple’s HomePod, ForceManager Cognitive and even talkative toilets. All signs point to further expansion in this field, with a likely increase in open shared platforms and the integration with IBM Watson, Google and Amazon.

3. AI needs to bring tangible value to the table 

The success of AI depends entirely on how it’s delivered to the user. The most successful malls, cities or mobile applications are those which put the consumer in the center and are designed around his/her experience while using its space, service or interface. AI user experience will be key to the success of this technology and a key differentiator on which companies will make it through the launching of the tool and securing its eventual adoption and growth. There’s more here on User Experience at UX Planet, and why every product, service or technology needs a story told through UX.

4. Help! My job is under attack!

Everyone is talking about job security and the existential threat posed by AI technology – a notion repeatedly lobbied to panels with the same repetitive answer; jobs will have to be reinvented.

As it was during the Industrial Revolution, certain jobs changed, people were substituted by machines yet new jobs arose from their ashes. The same will apply to AI. Despite initial resistance (remember this rebellious lot?) the development of new technology will lead to better jobs, more diverse qualifications and skill sets and a more productive future.

5. Chat bots will be complementary

As asking Google for a weather update is complementary to watching the forecast live on TV, chatbots are complementary to those people assisting others. However, we mustn’t get carried away. While there is certain scope for automation for some of the most common, basic queries, when it comes to matters of significance a unique human touch will be required. We aren’t prepared (nor is the technology) for such in-depth communication.

6. OpenAI

Brain child of Tesla founder Elon Musk, OpenAI is a non-profit research company whose mission is to “ensure AGI’s benefits are as widely and evenly distributed as possible.” What’s interesting about it is that all foundings, patents and research are to be made accessible to the public. Therefore, all ideas with regards to AI application suddenly become infinitely more possible as the barrier to access is essentially lowered if not completely removed. Could this spur an new era of technological innovation?

7. Ethics in AI will have to be in place

Last but not least, and perhaps most importantly – ethics. It is vital to have ethics when implementing AI since such powerful technology can easily be manipulated if fallen to the wrong hands. Thoughtful regulation/legislation will have to be brought into place if the reigns are to be loosened on this brand new technology. We have already seen the consequences if not…

What are your thoughts on AI? Where do you see it maybe 5 or 10 years down the line?