When Sophia the robot, the brainchild of Hanson robotics, was recently granted citizenship of Saudi Arabia, the improving technologies associated with artificial intelligence (AI) were again brought into the foreground.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, artificial intelligence is the capability of a machine to imitate human behaviour, and the Encyclopaedia Britannica goes further by defining it as a term frequently applied to the project of developing systems endowed with the intellectual processes characteristic of humans, such as the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalise, or learn from past experience.

Whilst there is still heated debate around the consequences of granting citizenship to a robot, and the moral and ethical issues surrounding AI is still a cardinal issue as it gains ground, we cannot deny that it holds exciting possibilities in the real world. Sophia, for instance, was developed to become a companion for the elderly, to teach children, and to help with crowd control at large events.

As far as the integration of AI into mobile phones goes, Huawei has been at the forefront of building an Android chip with a neural processing unit into its latest releases, the Huawei 10 and 10 Pro. This chip assists the phone in various ways, among these identifying scenes and using the correct camera settings to yield the best photo results, recognising and identifying objects and gathering information about them even when the phone is offline, improving voice clarity, and learning the habits of users to improve the phone’s performance.

This might not seem like much, but when you consider the fact that technologies such as these allow phones to process and digest the information in the area it is in, by seeing and understanding what is going on around it, this is what moves a phone from simply being “smart”, to a next level of “intelligence”.

Apple has also incorporated what they call “neural engines” into the recently released iPhone X, which they believe will be the framework for developers to create apps that will use this as a platform for further development in this sphere.

Global technology firms like Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook are pushing major funding towards the development of AI, and consider it to be a major growth driver within the next few years. As much as Sophia has become the face of AI of late, this robot certainly isn’t the only way in which this emerging and developing technology will influence our lives in years to come.

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