The Future of Audio: AI - Absolutely Inevitable?

Having just returned from consumer electronics trade show IFA, we’ve heard plenty about how AI is being integrated into consumer electronics, from advanced health-tracking smart bands to dishwashers. But what does this actually mean? What is true AI, and does it resemble the assistant telling you what the weather is outside your window? RHA’s own Dante investigates:

The RHA team pretending to work hard at IFA 2019

The RHA team pretending to work hard at IFA 2019

In 1956, John McCarthy – an American PhD graduate in mathematics from Princeton University – coined the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ (AI). Defined as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines”, McCarthy established the foundations of AI today.

Technology moves quickly and in the last 63 years we have built heavily upon those foundations. The autocorrect this blog relied heavily upon, Spotify’s Discover elements, search engine results and Netflix’s tailored suggestions are all AI-based. How else would we determine what to watch next after finishing the latest season of Stranger Things? (It’s Mindhunter, no need for AI on this one.) This intelligence, unquestionably useful and life improving, is limited to a set of functions and is thus known as ‘narrow AI’. Essentially all AI currently in existence is narrow AI.

However, progress never halts and we endeavour to build AI capable of human-level intelligence. This is known as ‘General AI’ and the principle concept is: AI would be capable of performing any intellectual task that a human being could. Imagine omni-available health care advice that is tailored to your mental and physical wellbeing. Imagine instantaneous, seamless translation during conversations on visits to foreign lands.  Imagine truly driverless cars, automated cooking or home cleaning.

Although we haven’t yet achieved this, our trusty voice assistants are leading the way. According to research carried out by Katja Grace in 2017; some experts believe there is a 50-50 chance of AI outperforming us mere humans in all tasks within 45 years. For the moment their features are limited but as we continue to “teach” them via usage athend technology improves, their potential grows. Perhaps one day, even to Artificial Super Intelligence (intelligence greater than that of humans), think HAL 9000 and Terminator.

Human interaction with AI has become a key component of our design approach here at RHA and we expect that to continue in the coming years.