It’s that time of the week again! The time of the week when we sit down and take a deep dive into the world of AI. Last time we looked at the basics and the regulations, we’re taking it a step further this time. I decided it’s time we delved into some of its real-world uses.
In this article, we’re going to be looking at examples of AI being used in everyday life. So sit down, grab a beer (you’ll get it, just keep reading) and join me for this somewhat wild and somewhat alarming study.
Let’s start it easy, and recent. There was a small insurgence of popularity for using AI to generate all sorts of things a few months ago. The most popular was AI-generated images, where you input a term into the website (such as this one) and see which images it came up with. It took social media like Twitter by storm, each and every user captivated by the interesting (and sometimes strangely grotesque) images that the AI came up with, often by combing a number of images it could come up with on the topic together to create its own, odd looking piece of art.
And speaking of artwork, just a few days ago (at the time of writing this article), I spotted a news article on how an AI-created artwork won first place at a State Fair Fine Arts Competition in Colorado. The AI artwork was called Théâtre D'opéra Spatial. Now, this win was quite polarising - with some people arguing that it undermined the efforts of other artists. Nevertheless, it won. So now AI is even taking trophies at state competitions. You have to admit, that’s a little alarming.
Do you know Hatsune Miku? Hatsune Miku is like one of those people that could walk into a party fifteen years on with a completely different hair colour and outfit and you’d still know exactly who they are, even if you didn’t know where from. Interestingly enough, her name actually translates to First Sound From the Future, and considering the doors she opened in the music industry, she lives up to her title.
Hatsune Miku is part of a musical genre named ‘Vocaloid’. The way Vocaloid works is that it uses computerized voices to piece together a song, and then to perform this new musical score you get a cute anime figure who can sing and dance. Hatsune Miku is just one of many Vocaloid, but she’s no doubt one of the most recognizable from the project. She even has a song featuring Nicki Minaj!
But how is Vocaloid artificial intelligence you may wonder? Yes, it’s computerized. But that doesn’t mean it’s actually intelligent with the capability of learning. And you’re correct. But that doesn’t mean that they’re two completely different concepts. Yamaha Corporation (yes - the company that created the Piano you used in Music class) created the Vocaloid software, and they also developed something called VOCALOID:AI, a project which used Vocaloid’s singing synthesis technology alongside artificial intelligence to analyze various characteristics of singing to recreate actual singing. The project was first used to recreate the singing of Japanese vocalist Hibari Misora, who died in 1989. VOCALOID:AI made its public debut on September 29th, 2019 with a special television program ‘NHK Special: Bringing Hibari Misora Back with AI’.
But AI’s use in the music industry doesn’t just end there. The AI approach to the music industry is typically to study the performance through a set of rules. This means that it typically works to understand, and then imitate what it is seeing. Alternatively, SaxEx used knowledge of performances taken from samples to create monophonic performances of jazz ballads. There are even websites online that create music pieces from AI. One of these is Jukebox and another that I discovered is SoundFul.
In fact, AI’s use in the music industry doesn’t end there. Youtuber ‘DoodleChaos’ used AI to create a music video for the song Canvas. I must admit I was very impressed by the results, it’s honestly quite the stunning little music video, with some beautiful shots of art. The concept is that takes a scene and continuously zooms into it until you arrive at a different scene. The video starts at what I could only describe as the outside of a witch's cottage on a starry night, and after zooming in to the point we see a sewer, the video eventually ends at a rather confusing conceptual piece of an artist’s workspace. If you want to watch it for yourself, you can see it here. Furthermore, Sagan’s (a project formed of musical artists and AI researchers) unveiled their very first AI-generated music video for the song ‘Coherence’ 3 months ago. The song was created by actual musicians, who received ideas from Jukebox’s AI. They even entered the AI Song Contest 2022 (yes, that is a competition, and no, Sagan’s didn’t win; The winner was Yaboi Hanoi, and you can listen to their song Enter Demons and Gods here. I took the time to listen to it myself, and I must admit it left me rather…confused, to say the least. There’s quite a lot going on, in a strange, interesting and questionably captivating EDM beat.)
Artificial Neural Networks
If you’ve been hanging on from the start of this article waiting for the beer to come into it, well congratulations because you’re nearly there. AI does have some rather quirky uses in everyday life or the industry. One use of AI is for ‘Artificial Neural Networks. These networks are used where there is an absence of an actual expert in a specific field. They work by simulating the neurons in the human brain so that the computer can think in a human-like manner. If you’d like to know more about how they work, check out Bernard Marr’s article.
Artificial Neural Networks have been used for a variety of reasons, from appraising real estate, predicting the outcome of sporting events, and even testing beer! Anheuser-Busch is an American Brewing Company that owns some of the most popular beers to date including Budweiser and Stella Artois. They built an analytics platform on the Microsoft Azure Cloud to draw conclusions from data regarding a variety of topics, including optimal barley conditions. The company uses AI in combination with POS system data (a ‘Point of Sale system’, the system that takes orders from customers and keeps track of all sales) with AI to recognize the preferences of customers. They also use artificial neural networks to identify the contents of their competitor's beer just from vapors, with a whopping 96% accuracy.
Finally, they have mentioned that they would be interested to branch into voice recognition systems so that employees can give orders to the system.
Speaking of voice recognition…
So, Amazon's Alexa. It's got AI. Great. You probably already knew that, or at least you could make an educated guess. But do you know how she works? The real nitty gritty? No? Awesome, then let's talk.
Well, she (to nobody's surprise) works fairly similar to any other voice-recognizing virtual assistant. Siri, Bixby, you name it. Virtual recognition technology paired with infinite access to an internet search and some aspects of AI to learn your preferences and you've got yourself the perfect little assistant, whether it's on your phone, on your computer, or sat on your bedside table telling you who America's founding fathers were, after playing the entire soundtrack to The Vampire Diaries.
They're known as 'weak' or 'narrow' AI. This is because they run on a set of essentially premeditated answers. It's like a set code. Instead of creating the code itself and learning, it takes what it already knows and shoves it in your face as an answer. It has specific algorithms to categorize the information it knows and then systematically decide which of these is most relevant to you within the span of a few simple seconds. That 'information' is simply everything that the internet knows. And we all know that the internet knows… well, everything…
But here's the thing, Alexa is comically smart. Comically, or alarmingly? I couldn't say, you pick. She has a tendency of remembering the strangest things, not to mention she can quite literally sing you a song when you ask her if she loves you. Alexa has a rather strange sense of self. She knows exactly what she is, where is, and what she does. She knows what she is and isn't capable of, yet she knows everything about you. With her hunches, she can recognize little abnormalities in your daily routine. Case in point, she can even recognize if you left a light on, and offer to turn it off. I don’t even want to think about where we’re going from here.
Recently, I watched a show where one of the main characters ran an AI-Calligraphy company (I wish I could tell you where those worlds collide, but I honestly couldn’t, it still leaves me stumped even today) and he went too far as putting his trusty AI assistant ‘Carla’ into anything from his wristwatch to his skateboard. And somehow, I’m not even surprised if that’s where we’re heading next.
Regardless, I’d say that’s about time to be wrapping up this article. You never know, there might even be an AI-assisted hoverboard produced by the time you’re reading this…I take that back. There already is one. Enter ‘Loomo’, a delivery robot that serves as both a hoverboard and an AI companion.
And with that being said, I’d say I’ve officially blown both my mind and yours with this one.
Beck, D., 2022. This Beer’s for You: AB InBev uses Artificial Intelligence. [online] Available at: <https://analytics.wine/beer-ab-inbev-use-ai-machine-learning/> [Accessed 9 September 2022]
Marr, B., 2018. What Are Artificial Neural Networks - A Simple Explanation For Absolutely Anyone. [online] Forbes. Available at: <https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2018/09/24/what-are-artificial-neural-networks-a-simple-explanation-for-absolutely-anyone/> [Accessed 1 September 2022].
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Thibeault, M. and Matsunobu, K., 2017. Singing with Hatsune Miku : Vocaloids as a Medium for Music Learning. [online] Available at: <https://www.lib.eduhk.hk/pure-data/pub/201721602.pdf> [Accessed 1 September 2022].
Sabhnani, M., Rao, P. and Panchal, A., 2001. AI Software in everyday life: A Survey. [online] Available at: <https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.202.5326&rep=rep1&type=pdf> [Accessed 1 September 2022].
SquareUp., 2022, What is a POS system and How Does it Work? [online] Available at: <https://squareup.com/us/en/townsquare/what-pos-system> [Accessed 9 September 2022]
Yamaha.com. 2019. Yamaha VOCALOID:AI™ Faithfully Reproduces Singing of Legendary Japanese Vocalist Hibari Misora. [online] Available at: <https://www.yamaha.com/en/news_release/2019/19100801/> [Accessed 1 September 2022].