back to article I've seen the future of consumer AI, and it doesn't have one

I didn't see a blockchain toothbrush at IFA in Berlin last week, but I'm sure there was one lurking about somewhere. With 30 vast halls to cover, I didn't look too hard for it. But I did see many things almost as tragic that no one could miss – AI being squeezed into almost every conceivable bit of consumer electronics. But …

NiceCuppaTea

AI in the kitchen is looking at completely the wrong end of the action.

I work, a lot. I really, really cant be arsed to look in my fridge and cupboards try to think of something to cook, or find a recipe that only uses the ingredients i have and try to have a healthy balanced diet.

The thing AI could do for me in the kitchen is ask me (and my family) 10 questions about what sort of food i like and how long i'm willing to spend in the kitchen preparing it then feck off and find me things to cook for that whole week, taking care not to make me fat, give me too much salt etc etc and give me food i actually like. Send me an email with a shopping list (or just order that shit direct from amazon/supermarket /wherever) Then when i get home from a long days work i just cook what the fridge tells me. If they wanted to improve suggestions for next weeks meals or whatever it could even give the family the option to rate the meal 1-5 stars.

National obesity? Solved.

Any number of ailments caused by poor diet? Solved

Cant decide what to cook for dinner? Solved.

Not wanting to write a boring ass shopping list? solved.

Not wanting suffer the supermarket? Solved.

Sort out that little list and i will buy one of your overpriced fridge smart ass things otherwise feck off.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Re: AI in the kitchen is looking at completely the wrong end of the action.

"... then feck off and find me things to cook for that whole week, taking care not to make me fat, give me too much salt etc etc and give me food i actually like."

And then you tell the AI to go sit in the corner...of a round, cornerless room.

Similarly, how do you solve the problem when a person has such dead taste buds he needs sickening levels of salt to get any kind of satisfaction? What if the sis is anorexic or bulimic? And your brother for whatever reason insists on only eating the foods you WON'T eat? Oh, and you just got laid off so there isn't a lot of money to go around these days?

Andrew Moore
Silver badge

Last year with was all IoT. My boss got an "Smart" Kettle that he can switch on remotely. The one thing it can't do is tell him whether there's any water in it or not. Which I thought would have been a basic requirement.

Teiwaz
Silver badge

Last year with was all IoT. My boss got an "Smart" Kettle that he can switch on remotely. The one thing it can't do is tell him whether there's any water in it or not. Which I thought would have been a basic requirement.

That's not a kettle that's a remotely activated explosive device (potentially).

You could at least take out a teacup or two and a stretch of kitchen counter.

Free the teabag 8!!!

katrinab
Silver badge

What's the use case for that anyway?

Once it can fill up remotely, pour itself into the teacup remotely, put the teabag in remotely, and walk the cup over to you, then we have something that might be useful. Until then, you are going to have to go to the kitchen anyway.

anthonyhegedus
Silver badge

I really can't understand the point of a remotely controlled smart kettle. I mean you need to be there both pre- and post- the boiling part anyway. There are three actions needed to use a kettle to make a cup of hot drink:

- fill the kettle with water

- boil the water in the kettle

- pour the water out into the previously prepared cup of coffee/tea

The so-called smart kettles can only deal with the second of these, and that's the simplest thing for a human to do, as it involves pressing a switch or button. If it were truly smart, it would do the other two steps too. And of course the preparation of the cup.

And smart fridges? What is this obsession with making fridges smart? OK, so a fridge might just be persuaded to know that you've got a pack of bacon in there. But how does it know there's only one slice left?

All this is really just a solution looking for a problem.

Teiwaz
Silver badge

Solution looking for a problem

All this is really just a solution looking for a problem.

Smart isn't. it's a data collection opportunity looking for a cheese tempting enough to the mouse.

Or the right wooden animal that the townsfolk wheel it in the gates and share their lives with it.

There's no problem beyond what Marketing idiots can convince themselves is a problem, and SMart was never really intended as a solution to much of anything in the consumer space. Except maybe boredom and the search for a new useless toy.

katrinab
Silver badge
Trollface

Obviously navigating a smartphone app is far easier than flicking the switch next to the power cable on the kettle. It's on a computer, therefore, by definition, it is easy to use.

Wensleydale Cheese
Silver badge

The damage a kettle can do

"That's not a kettle that's a remotely activated explosive device (potentially).

You could at least take out a teacup or two and a stretch of kitchen counter."

As a young teenager I took out a kitchen window with a kettle.

New non-automatic kettle. The old one rattled its lid when coming to the boil, the new one didn't. As was my wont, I wandered off into another room until it was done, but no sound of rattling lid meant I didn't realise it had come to the boil and was shooting hot steam up the window.

It was an impressive sounding crack when the window went.

Sealed double glazed unit too, so it was an insurance job.

Much grief from parents ensued.

Wensleydale Cheese
Silver badge
Unhappy

Grr...

"It's on a computer, therefore, by definition, it is easy to use."

Grr. Online banking makes your life easier. Grr.

Not when it refuses to work. You now have to find a physical bank, and of course that once convenient local branch closed down years ago,

Grr.

Terry 6
Silver badge

We're theproduct...

The point of a "smart fridge" is that we're not the customer, we're the product. The fridge would identify that we have run out of our Amazon supplied, bland, over-priced, generic cheddar and send us some more. It'd remove the option ( and the will) to shop around or try a new product - unless it was one they were promoting to increase their profit margins. If they had their way our branded, Amazon supplied SmartFridge would have fixed slots for a range of standardised items. ( A bit like those hotel mini-bars with every item in it's own sensor checked slot, that try to charge you if you move their over-priced booze out of the way so that you can bung in a carton of milk ).

This would tie us in to their retail outlet, selling us a smaller range of standardised products and charging us without us even knowing what we're buying and how much it costs us. We'd just pay our bill at the end of the month, probably automatically.

Steve K
Silver badge

Mobile Teasmade

You are describing a Teasmade on wheels/in a drone!

Milton
Silver badge

So-called "AI"

El Reg, by comparison with ordinary, mostly dunder-headed news outlets, actually knows enough to be perfectly well aware that there is not yet any such thing as "Artificial Intelligence"—unless the meaning of the word "intelligence" is cut back to its smallest conceivable level ... as in, say, "the intelligence of the US president", where we would expect it to be equivalent to that of yesterday's roadkill.

So perhaps the Reg has a duty, as a responsible organ, to style the term as "AI" in quotes, or better still to write: "so-called 'AI'".

The term is so completely misused that it has lost any meaning. All the world's supercomputers standing in a line still cannot simulate in real time the mind of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier: the idea that so-called 'AI' usefully exists in Google, Facebook, Fort Meade, your phone, toothbrush or iShite, is a completely ridiculous con for the absurdly gullible and uninformed. Complicated algorithms can process photos and sounds, and do some impressive things in other extremely circumscribed, rules-based, confected environments, like playing Go—but not one of them could hold a worthwhile, convincing, wide-ranging and empathetic conversation with you.

Training a computer the size of a garage with several hundred cores to trawl through twenty petabytes of data using terabytes of RAM to manage something previously achieved by the litre of blue jelly inside my head is impressive—in computer terms.

In terms of the incredible versatility of a human brain ... meh, it doesn't even shift the needle.

So take a deep breath, Reg, and help to inoculate the world against this constant diarrhoea of marketing nonsense. It is not AI. There is no AI. There won't be any AI for another decade or two. There's just big computers with lots of data, doing a few very, very specific things really fast. There is only "so-called 'AI'".

doublelayer

Re: So-called "AI"

I mostly agree with you, but some applications of what is termed AI are things the brain couldn't do either efficiently or at all. Usually, they call this machine learning, because they realize that the program is less deliberate intelligence and more iterative or evolutionary familiarization with data. For example, a laptop can recognize text from images much faster than your brain. Your brain can do it better, but the computer can do it well enough if image quality is good, and can process at hundreds of pages a minute. Identifying irregularities in a million seemingly random numbers used to be a multi-year project for a team of cryptographers, or a multi-month project for a concerted effort of tens of teams. Programs exist to do that in a matter of hours using consumer hardware, or seconds on the computers you mention.

There are other examples that a computer can do where a brain can't; anything that involves a lot of data transformation, while technically possible to be done manually, would require a brain to act almost identically to the computer, doing the job much more slowly and with the virtual guarantee of many mistakes. Thus, not all machine learning/clever algorithmics/artificial limited-intelligence is useless. Primarily just the kind the companies want we consumers to have available to us. The good code they keep to themselves.

Teiwaz
Silver badge

Re: So-called "AI"

I mostly agree with you, but some applications of what is termed AI are things the brain couldn't do either efficiently or at all.

True, but I can't think of any examples in the Consumer Market.

0laf
Silver badge
Paris Hilton

Imagine how much food waste there will be if your fridge has an absolute adherence to the dates printed on the label. Plenty of food is edible after the use by date not just the best before date (and some goes off before those dates too). I doubt the AI fridge comes with an AI nose and eye to check the condition of foods.

Teiwaz
Silver badge

Imagine how much food waste there will be if your fridge has an absolute adherence to the dates printed on the label.

Plenty of people have that problem these days. Living with 'young 'professionals' in shared housing for a while you see awful lot of stuffed dumped (in the wrong bin I might add) that's a mere day passed and nothing wrong with it. When I was a kid, there was an open jar of jam that'd been in the cupboard at least six years, we just scrapped the blue off every time.

katrinab
Silver badge

There's a best before date on my tub of salt, I think is in 1999, but it is still absolutely fine and I don't need to scrape anything off it.

jonathan keith

Someone phone the shipyard...

... we're going to need a bigger 'B' Ark.

StuntMisanthrope
Bronze badge

It's not the A IoT.

But you're not going to get any money unless there is something to see on TV. It's a bit like running another business to develop software internally at the same-time. #EMEAInvestor #codeistangible

Kevin McMurtrie
Silver badge

I'm a creepy marketing device. Tell me about yourself!

Consumers will use AI when consumers control the AI processor and its data. Right now, "AI assistant" is just a facade for personal data collection.

harmjschoonhoven
Unhappy

I understand

that a robot dog has large eyes to make it look cute, but why does it not have a fur of nanofibres or at least a synthetic shark skin? And if you go for plastic, choose doggy-brown or a Dalmatian pattern.

Pseudonymous Howard

Don't ask what your AI can do for you! Ask what you can do for your AI... what, wait a minute...

Lexxy

AI

"Gentlemen, I know how anxious you've all been during these last few days. But now I think I can safely say that your time and money have been well-spent. We're about to witness the greatest miracle of the machine age. Based on the revolutionary Computonian Law of Probability, this machine will tell us the precise location of the 3 remaining golden tickets."

It says: "I won't tell. That would be cheating."

benjya

https://twitter.com/richardsusskind/status/844954792661172225

rbivand

AI meets dentist - retail makes fun of AI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgJLpuprQp8 struck me as relevant to the outlook for AI (Rema 1000 is a food retailer using simple things are often best as a slogan.

IGnatius T Foobar !

AI has been "right around the corner" for 50 years.

In the 1960's, and in the 1980's, etc. we were promised that video calling (or "picture phones" as they called it then) were right around the corner. When you made a call using that landline set attached to the wall in the kitchen, you would actually be able to *see* the person you were talking to! The reason we didn't get this sooner is because nobody actually wanted it in that form. On a computer or smartphone, in specific situations, that's where it finally happened.

AI is the same way. The digerati have been telling us for decades that AI is going to swoop in and bring us a Jetsons lifestyle. Nobody actually wants that. Machine learning and expert systems will bring improvements where it makes sense -- and none of the current "smart" products being offered make any sense. They're just traditional products with Clippy stuffed into them.

N2
Silver badge

Really can't see the point

It could probably tell you the square root of a tin of beans, how many tins you have etc etc, but be unable to open them.

Steve K
Silver badge

Re: Really can't see the point

Or a new AI recipe idea:

Put root beer in a square cup - now you have beer - Woohoo! Magic!

Wibble

the Jim bloke
Bronze badge
Terminator

Some previous article on AI

The AI experts interviewed were waxing lyrical on the glories of AI populating ToDo lists for you " to save you the trouble of doing it yourself.."

now put on your best Dalek voice find a dalek ringtone that goes

YOU WILL OBEY

and trigger it every time you access the ToDo list

Oengus
Silver badge

Am I the only person?

The centrepiece of its AI efforts this year is a robot, ClOi.

Am I the only person who saw this as a robot CIO. My initial thought was that LG had come up with a replacement for the CIO as the start for a line of AI replacements for the C-suite in a company.

Unindicted Co-conspirator
WTF?

Security Anyone?

There seems to be a glaring omission in the discussion of putting "AI" into household items: Security! What happens when the manufacturer includes software/firmware without good security or doesn't update software/firmware? If it's connected to the Internet it will eventually be hacked. Period. I'd hate to come home and my "smart" thermostat has been set to max heat, my freezer is doing a defrost cycle melting my ice cream (the horror!) and my stove was turned on high setting the pizza bo on top on fire. This is all assuming someone hasn't hacked my smart locks and locked me out of my house.

Will A.I. order more tinfoil for my hat?

0laf
Silver badge
FAIL

Re: Security Anyone?

I suspect they are thinking that you will be conned into buying a new range of smart devices every 18 months so they don;t need to support them for any length of time.

In fact I confidently predict that you'll start to see more and more IOT / AI devices being offered on a subscription basis. You pick your pieces of IOT tat from one manufacturer pay your monthly payment and every year or two you'll get a new suite of fresh crap to ensure you're keeping up with the digital Joneses.

Charles 9
Silver badge

Re: Security Anyone?

I don't know about that. Renting means the product never changes hands. Meaning WHEN (not IF) there's a serious problem like a security breach, then the manufacturer retains responsibility and liability (which likely can't be signed away by contracts due to consumer protection laws).

The Boojum

Solution looking for a problem?

Sounds like we need an Electric Monk to use all these AI gadgets to save us from being exposed to them.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Smash the spinning Jenny!

Some of you think your apps are good enough... but that's too much so some of you print out the webpage... but that's too techy so some of you use books... how many of you ride dinosours to work and use a mammoth trunk to wash the dishes? What century technology is ok to cook with?

All this 'I don't need new tech' and 'the world worked better when I could understand it' nonsense is always spouted by the old folk and yet new technology keeps comming, it's almost like you're simply old gits now, are out of touch and pining for simpler days (or fjords I know your generation would like that joke). You do all know that your parents said exactly the same things about electric appliances and computers when they came out, hell your grandparents said it about the telephone and about vaccines etc. Thank fuck old people are always wrong! Sure most of the devices at the expo will be forgotten but some might come to define the next generation!

I can never understand why so many anti-tech 'i prefer to do it the old way' type people bother to read tech websites, don't you know you'll only get your blood pressure up. Please don't have a stroke downvoting my post because I don't hate new things and still have all my teeth.

Terry 6
Silver badge
FAIL

Re: Smash the spinning Jenny!

AC - Trolling here is really a waste of time. We ( not all old folk) have pretty much all seen it all.

And FWIW we, old and young, do know the difference between worthwhile new tech and meretricious crap designed to separate the gullible from their cash.

But hey! If you want to troll, go ahead. And if you want to buy this stuff, please do. It's gainful employment for someone - if only a marketing droid or two.

Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

Re: Smash the spinning Jenny!

"You do all know that your parents said exactly the same things about electric appliances and computers when they came out, hell your grandparents said it about the telephone and about vaccines etc."

Except they didn't. Those inventions you listed were accepted quite easily. There was of course a matter of affordability - people just couldn't buy two dozens of electrical appliances for a monthly wage.

Nick

Re: Smash the spinning Jenny!

+1 for using the word meretricious

aberglas

Block Chain Toothbrush

Now there is an idea. I'm writing up the Patent application now, hope to get VC tomorrow. And not just the brush, the toothpaste as well. Possibilities are endless.

Mark Wallace

Re: The more I listen to the EU...

Why is everyone so surprised that the biggest problem with AI is an all-but total lack of intelligent people trying to sell it?

Saw that coming a mile off, I did (and I didn't need AI binoculars to do so).

Nick

Cooking AI?

How about some AI that can work out that if, at 1pm on a Sunday afternoon, I want to print a recipe it would be better sent to my A4 plain-paper printer than my 6"x4" sublimation photo printer?

Just a thought...

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