Welcome to Westworld

By Jennifer Eng | December 13, 2016

Artificial intelligence is undeniably on the rise. Over the course of the past year there was increased reporting on how AI is being aimed to improve "the ways we interact with our environments,” and how it may benefit our daily lives. R “Ray” Wong’s recent article in Harvard Business Review explores the potential experience of going to an AI-enabled hospital, where AI can assist visitors with checking in, providing directions, offering information about specific medical issues, anticipating needs by learning from experience, and making suggestions in the gift shop or cafeteria. Wong recognizes that “AI-driven automation may make some people anxious,” but emphasizes that “successful AI-driven smart services will augment human intelligence,” specifically in the world of healthcare “by enabling reduction of errors, improving speed of decisions, identifying demand signals, predicting outcomes, and preventing disasters.” In other words, along with increased emphasis on soft skill training to improve patient interactions and create cultures of feedback in healthcare, AI adds another opportunity to provide a better overall patient experience.

But for some, AI continues to represent a fear that robots and machines will completely take over our lives. Stanford University has taken on a project to survey how AI will potentially affect areas of daily life in the long run, and its recent report indicates that our relationship with AI will be similar to that with smartphones, or in other words, it will not “take over our lives, but most people at the same time can’t imagine functioning without one.” The potential benefits that AI may have on our lives includes education, with big players Udacity, IBM’s Watson, Didi Chuxing, and Amazon’s Alexa teaming up to offer a nanodegree in artificial intelligence, Pearson and IBM using AI to enhance education, and Colorado State and Cognii joining forces to provide students with immediate feedback, it’s safe to say we’ll continue to see more AI-enabled innovations working to improve learning.

Jennifer is the Digital Marketing Manager at Practice. She has a publishing background and taught high school English in Takamatsu, Japan through the JET Programme. Jennifer was a creative writing major and currently volunteers with literacy/gender equality nonprofit Room to Read.