Running into the person I like during a town festival or having dinner with my friends, until late into the night, makes me happier than any entrepreneurial success. These types of affirmations, which are hard for many of us to admit, describe the nature of the “moments” that make us happy. Of course, we all have responsibilities and obligations, and can’t always enjoy those moments. But aside from that, or rather, due to the restrictions, the circumstances that make those “moments” happen cannot take place. Therefore, we are limited to waiting for that happiness to arise.
These days, I have been walking around my town, Algorta. I come across many people I know and we say hello with a smile, a “How are you?” Two months ago, we would have given each other a quick nod or timidly said “Hey.” People stroll, happily.
We humans need contact.
There is no doubt that Artificial Intelligence is helping in each phase of this pandemic and is proving to be crucial in the fight against the virus. When identifying outbreaks, for example, BlueDot’s Artificial Intelligence algorithms were able to raise the alarm about the virus in Wuhan, days before it was confirmed by the Chinese authorities.
Plus, it is also proving to be essential in putting a stop to the pandemic, or at least mitigating the damage: diagnostic tools, platforms for predicting and managing healthcare resources (like the one that our company, Sherpa.ai, created), systems for detecting new outbreaks, and Artificial Intelligence applied to the decoding of the virus’ genome and creating a vaccine in record time.
During lockdown, technology in general has been fundamental, not only to keep the world running, telecommuting, and online learning, but also for socialization. Lockdown would have been much more difficult for us, psychologically, without video chats with friends and family, online interviews… But now the novelty has worn off, the fun of the first few days is gone, and we need contact with other people.
Consequently, technology companies are facing a new challenge: the challenge of applying AI to create tools that help us get back to enjoying those moments that bring us happiness, safely and securely. To safely and securely be able live that life and know that you are not going to infect anyone, nor is anyone going to infect you.
To do so, new applications like body temperature measurement without human intervention, people flow management systems, and instant COVID-19 detection tests based on photonics and voice biometrics have begun to be used. All of these systems will be employed to avoid infections.
But new contact tracing systems are also being announced and, in my opinion, the use of this functionality should always be voluntary. Besides being voluntary, technology companies should be working on algorithms that allow contact tracing to be done securely and privately. We shouldn’t have to choose between privacy and safety. That is another big challenge, and AI can help overcome it.
We need to enjoy dinner with friends, dance at the town festival, travel, celebrate birthdays with family, see a play, and go to a concert and fall for someone we just met; all those “moments” that a “machine” alone cannot create and which, in many cases, are those that bring us happiness. AI alone cannot bring us happiness, but maybe, thanks to it, those circumstances can arise so that we can once again experience those “moments” that make us happy.