Next week marks the start of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), a gigantic exhibition of gadgets, smartphones, tablets, smart speakers, smart displays, security systems, and televisions that’ll define the year to come. CES 2019 promises to be one of the most jam-packed in recent years, with more than 4,500 exhibitors and 180,000 people from 155 countries expected to attend.

Products with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will have an outsized presence. Both IBM CEO Ginni Rometty and LG executive I.P. Park — just two of several keynote speakers at this year’s conference — are expected to talk about the ways AI can transform industries — and lives.

Toward that end, LG in particular has made significant inroads. It recently revealed a second-generation motorized exoskeleton — the LG CLOi SuitBot — that it says can detect when a wearer’s waist is bent below a threshold and automatically apply force, absorbing the load being picked up. In a separate initiative, as part of a pilot program at Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea, LG is testing a fleet of custodial and guide robots that scan boarding passes, offer directions, and tidy up areas in need of frequent cleaning.

In an interview with VentureBeat last year, Park said that such projects “encapsulated” LG’s mission: using AI and innovative technologies to help “everybody.”

“We’re aiming to create happier, better lives,” he said. “AI is a means to this end.”

Lots of other companies share in that mission. Another CES 2019 exhibitor — Deep Sentinel — this week revealed a home security service that uses a combination of cameras, AI, and motion detection to detect and stop home burglaries. And Segway-Ninebot recently took the wraps off of the Loomo Delivery Robot, an autonomous robot vehicle that can ferry takeout orders, parcels, and other goods from fulfillment hubs to customers’ homes.

Italian company Volta.ai, meanwhile, previewed Mookkie ahead of next week’s show — a smart food bowl that uses a pet-recognizing camera to prevent overfeeding. Currant demoed an intelligent in-wall outlet with AI-driven analysis features that helps to reduce home electrical waste. And CarePredict, a Florida-based health tech startup, peeled back the curtains on its product offering: a wearable device that taps machine learning algorithms to reduce seniors’ falls by 25 percent.

Not everyone’s bullish about AI, to be fair. According to a December survey published by Pew Center Research, 37 percent of technologists believe that most people won’t be better off in the next 10 years as a result of advances in AI and related technologies. They expressed concerns that people might lose control over their lives as AI begins to play a larger role in decision making, and worried about dependency lock-in — i.e., the eroding ability for people to think for themselves — and the destructive capabilities of autonomous weapons, cybercrime, and propaganda.

The Pew Center isn’t the first to surface anxieties about AI. More than 20 percent of respondents to a Deloitte report ranked “cybersecurity vulnerabilities” as a key issue in AI development and adoption, while 43 percent rated “making the wrong strategic decisions based on AI/cognitive recommendations” as among the top three.

Those concerns shouldn’t be discounted. But as I’ve argued before, demonizing or discounting AI does those who might benefit from it a disservice.

Just this week, global nonprofit Resolve took the wraps off of TrailGuard, a machine learning-driven camera designed to prevent poachers from hunting the endangered African elephant, 100 of which are killed each day. And in December 2018, Intel and Hoobox Robotics detailed an AI system that translates facial expressions into movements for motorized wheelchairs, affording paraplegics a degree of autonomy.

I think that MIT physicist and futurist Max Tegmark, who spoke to VentureBeat this past summer in a wide-ranging interview, said it best: “There’s an amazing opportunity to help humanity flourish like never before if we get it right with AI, and that’s why it’s really worth fighting for getting it right. All of today’s greatest problems can be solved with better technology, ultimately. And AI is a crucial part of that.”

For AI coverage, send news tips to Kyle Wiggers and Khari Johnson — and be sure to bookmark our AI Channel.

Thanks for reading,

Kyle Wiggers
AI Staff Writer

P.S. Please enjoy this video from Coding Tech about applying statistical modeling and machine learning to perform time-series forecasting:

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