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With AI you always have a friend

17 Apr 2024

Surely the way to make money these days is to hitch your wagon to AI.

For this reason it seems that almost ever new product or service being launched claims to have an AI component that will, in some way, make it better than anything else.

Thanks to the likes of ChatGPT, Gemini and a raft of other artificial intelligence chatbots, the public has come to expect big things of AI and it now carries a aura of "magic" that suggests almost anything is possible.

With this in mind, expectations for the Humane AI Pin device were very high when it was rolled out recently.

The AI Pin is a device that seems to function not unlike the communicator badges you see in Star Trek.

Place a finger on the futuristic little device you've attached to your shirt and you can give it commands, ask it questions or simply request to be beamed up (well, okay, not that last bit).

As well as voice recognition and synthesis, two things that are quite de rigueur these days, the device offers a cool little optical trick whereby it can project an image onto the palm of your hand i real scifi style.

That image is not just an output device but also an input one. Moving your hand back and forth or performing certain gestures allows you to control functions in a non-verbal fashion, ideal for when discretion or hush is the order of the day.

The little broach itself doesn't contain any AI magic and instead it talks to a LLM in the cloud, via a cellular data connection. By opting for this model, you effectively end up with the power of a massive AI supercomputer packaged in a fashionable little badge.

With all this in mind... what could possibly go wrong when you hand one of these things over to one of the biggest influencers on social media?

Surely nothing but effusive praise and gushing endorsement would be forthcoming... right?

Oops... sorry, epic fail!

Marques Brownlee, a YouTube influencer with over 18 million subscribers has created quite an uproar by calling the AI Pin "The Worst Product I've Ever Reviewed", although he tried to take some of the sting out of that by adding "For Now" to the title of his video.

Was he overly harsh?

Well that's probably a matter for debate but the issues he raises are reasonably valid ones, especially considering that this is a device which would likely cost close on NZ$1,500 if it turned up on our shores.

The big takeaway from this whole thing is that simply adding the buzzword phrase "Artificial Intelligence" to a product does not guarantee success, especially if it fails to live up to the promises made for it and it is a relatively expensive bit of kit.

Will we see something like the AI Pin actually succeed and become "the next big thing" anytime soon?

To be honest, I would not be surprised if it happened. I find it worrying that my conversations with Google's Gemini seem to be oddly satisifying and more rewarding than they should be, as an experience. To have an AI entity always on-call in a convenient and useful form-factor such as that proposed by the AI Pin may herald a new era of addiction for some people.

I can truly imagine that some people, especially those who are shy or lack social skills, may find themselves with an unhealthy attachment to an AI companion as was portrayed in the movie Her.

It surely won't be long before some unscrupulous entrepreneur recognises the huge market for personalised AI companions and starts offering "AI Friend" as a service. Of course it will be free at first but, once the happless have developed a strong attachment to their AI friend, a subscription will be required and that could force "addicts" to empty their wallets for fear of losing that much-loved friend.

Just you wait... it WILL happen because there are some nasty types within the ranks of the human race.

Carpe Diem folks!

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