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Artificial Intelligence is getting cozy at home

It is said that art imitates life, but occasionally art also anticipates or shapes life. Take the now over 50 year’s old Hanna Barbera cartoon The Jetsons. Many of the technological wonders that the show’s writers envisioned human beings using are now in some stage of development. A casual scanning of tech shows helps us see where we are so far, suggesting that by 2062, the year the show is set in, all that the show’s writers had anticipated may very well have become reality and then some.

During the 2017 CIROS robotic exhibit, I had the opportunity to peruse some of the developments on service robots and industry digitization. This past June, the robotic exhibit CES Asia in Shanghai introduced artificial intelligence (AI) as a new product category. AI is slowly becoming a ubiquitous part of our daily lives, from powering Amazon’s Alexa, which every so often makes me jumpy for mumbling something out of the blue, to other practical benefits we see in cars, smart homes, robotics, health and wellness devices. Haier, which owns the brand GE appliances in U.S., anticipates the fridge as the future brain of the home. The idea is that the fridge will connect to other appliances via Haier’s U+ smart home platform. For instance, you select a recipe on the fridge’s touch screen and the cooking instructions appear automatically on the oven, where you can see it on a screen in the range top.

My impression during the CIROS robotic exhibit last year was that manufacturers were anticipating an increasingly Jetson’s-like household in the near future, and it seems that the robotic innovations presented at this year’s CES further supports that impression. Take GT Robot Technology’s GT Wonder Boy, for instance, much like the robot maid Rosie in the Jetsons (just on steroids), it can not only perform domestic duties, but also grow and evolve with users – imagine that. The inbuilt AI is supposed to allow the Wonder Boy to pick up on family member’s habits and even emotions to offer encouragement during low times. Another example is iPal from Avatarmind, which can offer companionship to lonely kids, go figure.

But to see how far we have come to a Jetson’s-like future, we need to look no further than the five 40-story buildings Byeollae l’Park Suite apartment complex, powered by LG Electronics AI home, scheduled to open in 2021 in Seoul. All the smart appliances of your choosing can be connected and you can use an app to remotely call elevators, check parking location and electricity consumption. And we may think this is a demonstration project, much as many of the futuristic marvels we see in tech trade shows, but it actually portrays how the households of the near future will increasingly look like. As a saying credited to Fyodor Dostoevsky goes, at first, art imitates life. Then life will imitate art. Then life will find its very existence from the arts. May Jetson's 2062 become ever closer and transform, positively, our households.

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