S’pore AI expert predicts grocery-buying robot butlers in 5 years, but says there’s still ‘a lot’ AI can’t do

The future is now.

| Fasiha Nazren | Sponsored | August 23, 2022, 05:57 PM

In the cult film “Back to the Future: Part II”, the year 2015 was when there were smart inventions like self-lacing shoes and flying cars.

Image from Futurepedia.

You may not notice them, but these AI-powered inventions include everyday appliances like robot vacuums and robot baristas.

Photo from Crown Digital

Of apps and robot butlers

Another everyday example of AI is the recommender system in your smartphones, according to Saifullah Razali, a lecturer at PSB Academy’s School of Engineering and Technology.

“This recommender system exists by the power of AI – analysing the features of the matters you were interested in the most in the past and predicting what you might like in the present. This recommender system is also used in platforms like e-hailing apps, streaming services apps and much more,” he said.

You also probably didn’t know that virtual AI butlers (think Iron Man’s J.A.R.V.I.S) already exist.

Saifullah added:

“In five years, we should be expecting real robot butlers roaming around town to pick up groceries for their masters. We can already see robot waiters at some restaurants, so that is a start [...] So, anything is possible for the future of technology.”

AI replacing jobs?

These technological advancements beg the question: Will AI replace more jobs?

In a 2019 Straits Times article, a study by Oxford Economics predicted that up to 20 million manufacturing jobs will be lost globally to robots.

However, Saifullah added that there are “a lot” of functions that AI still cannot replicate or do better than humans.

“[Take, for example,] creating good music, playing real football and understanding figurative language. In short, anything that is more on the artistic side is pretty much dominated by human beings, for now.”

He stressed that the gap is getting “smaller and smaller at a very fast pace”, though.

That being said, AI may not take over such jobs just yet. But in case that day ever comes, one should upgrade themselves to stay ahead of the game.

AI as a driver to upskill one’s self

“The people who lost their jobs because of AI should upskill themselves, particularly in the field of AI. Hence, instead of looking at it as AI ‘taking away’ their jobs, they should look at it as AI driving them to upskill themselves,” he said.

He added that AI is meant to be a tool “to ease people with everyday tasks” and therefore, people need to get to know about it “at least at the surface level”.

So is learning AI as complicated as it seems? It depends, Saifullah said.

“If you want to use a self-driving car, then you just need to learn about all the buttons in the car. If you want to use it to create your own AI application, then you have to understand how machine learning models work and how to code them,” he explained.

Interested to upskill yourself with some AI knowledge? PSB Academy offers several technology-related courses, like the Bachelor of Engineering Honours in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.

This degree covers robotics and AI, where students get to learn specific and relevant applications of AI to the engineering industry.

Students also get to have hands-on learning experiences through various school projects to master applications like AI principles, programming and robotics.

You can find more details on the course here.

This sponsored article is brought to you by PSB Academy.

Top image from Unsplash.