Can AI have your attention please?

1 Feb 2024

Image: Polat Goktas

AI researcher Dr Polat Goktas says 2024 is a ‘crucial moment’ to leverage AI innovation to enhance human potential, productivity and creativity.

Due to rapid technological advancements, generative artificial intelligence (AI) made significant impacts across industrial sectors last year. This progress represents a crucial moment for innovation, with businesses leveraging advanced technologies to enhance human potential, productivity and creativity.

The trend is increasingly towards intuitive technology, aligned with human intelligence, moving from merely filling gaps to augmenting human capabilities. It is a new era characterised not just by improved efficiency, but by seamlessly integrating technology into all aspects of life, focusing on ergonomic and user-friendly tools to create a more inclusive digital world.

Exploring the innovative trends highlighted in Accenture’s recently published Technology Vision 2024 report offers a window into the future of technology, emphasising human-centric development.

AI as an intuitive adviser

The first trend in the report highlights a significant shift in our relationship with technology. Generative AI is changing the way we access and interact with data. For instance, AI chatbots like OpenAI’s ChatGPT (which became the fastest-growing technology ever) are transforming from simple search tools to intelligent advisers, capable of synthesising vast amounts of information.

This change is profound, with 95pc of executives believing that generative AI will compel organisations to modernise their technology architecture. This trend represents a critical evolution in digital businesses, shifting the focus from traditional data access to a more integrated and intuitive AI-driven approach. This leap in AI capabilities is not just changing how we interact with technology but is also redefining the very fabric of business and personal decision-making processes.

Ecosystems of AI agents

2024 will witness the rise of AI agent ecosystems. These agents, capable of autonomous decision-making and performing complex tasks, are set to revolutionise our approach to technology.

This evolution marks a shift from solitary AI functionalities to a collaborative and interconnected system of intelligent agents, working together to deliver solutions and insights. The orchestration of these AI ecosystems promises to enhance enterprise productivity and innovation, with 96pc of executives recognising this as a significant opportunity within the next three years. This shift requires a thoughtful balance between human guidance and AI autonomy.

Spatial computing

Spatial computing is blurring the lines between digital and physical realms. This emerging technology is not just about creating immersive experiences; it is also about fundamentally altering how we interact with our surroundings and technology.

Spatial computing bridges the gap between virtual and real environments, offering new possibilities for interaction and engagement in various sectors, from entertainment to education.

More than 9 in 10 (92pc) executives said their organisation plans to create a competitive advantage by leveraging spatial computing. It represents a significant leap in how we conceive and interact with digital information, transforming it into a more tangible and integrated part of our physical world.

Human-centric technological interfaces

The drive towards more human-centric technology interfaces is gaining momentum. This trend is about creating technology that is not only intuitive but also aligns more closely with human behaviours and needs.

This approach emphasises creating intuitive interfaces that simplify interaction, making technology more accessible and user-friendly. This trend is crucial in bridging the gap between complex technological functionalities and the ease of human interaction, ultimately leading to a more inclusive and efficient digital experience.

Recent advances in neurotechnology are creating exciting possibilities in mind-machine interfaces. Studies from the University of California San Francisco and Stanford University have made significant strides using neural prosthetics, such as brain-computer interfaces (BCI), to interpret neural data into speech. This breakthrough technology offers hope for individuals with speech impairments, enabling them to communicate by translating their neural signals into text or computer-generated speech.

In 2023, Apple introduced Vision Pro with visionOS, enabling user interaction through gaze and simple gestures, eliminating the need for traditional controllers. This advancement, however, raises concerns about the depth of technology’s understanding of human intentions, with 31pc of consumers expressing frustration over technological misunderstandings. As a result, there is a growing need for updated biometric privacy standards and new neuro-ethics guidelines, particularly for handling sensitive biometric data.

Until formal regulations are established, companies bear the responsibility of building and maintaining consumer trust in these advanced technologies.

Future expectations and trends

In terms of policy developments, 2023 highlighted the complexities and challenges in managing AI technology. President Biden’s executive order to protect Americans sparked mixed reactions. The UK’s AI Safety Summit emphasised international cooperation and security policies, though some security measures were criticised. The EU’s AI Act, set to become law in 2024 and fully implemented by 2026, represents the first comprehensive legal framework for AI, indicating that political and ethical regulations will become increasingly important after 2024.

In predicting tech innovation, Harvard Business Review’s The Year in Tech 2024 report suggests that AI, augmented reality and blockchain will be increasingly used across various sectors, from human resources to supply chains. These technologies, while enhancing employee performance and customer experience, require careful management and ethical consideration.

Deloitte’s Tech Trends 2024 report suggests that digital twins, industrial metaverse, productive AI, and innovative computing powers will shape future transformations. Cybersecurity is gaining attention due to increasing risks, and businesses are shifting investments from old technologies to modern ones. Cloud computing, cybersecurity and AI are among the most invested areas, with rising impact on business and daily life.

Alongside these predictions, AI and advancing tech will bring a wave of developments with many unexpected impacts and results this year and beyond.

By Dr Polat Goktas

Dr Polat Goktas is an AI research scientist at the School of Computer Science at University College Dublin and at the CeADAR Centre for Applied Artificial Intelligence. His research areas encompass human-computer interaction, generative artificial intelligence, machine learning and explainable artificial intelligence across various domains.

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