AI in consumer tech goods is here. Are we ready?

We are slowly reaching a point where we will willingly grant access to data for access to enjoy AI benefits, says the author. File

We are slowly reaching a point where we will willingly grant access to data for access to enjoy AI benefits, says the author. File

Published Jan 23, 2024


I’ve been observing innovations that are knocking on our doors and it has been interesting to note that they all share one thing in common – a hunger for data.

What’s even more interesting is that they will make our lives better if we allow them to know us. In order for an artificial intelligence (AI) hardware to effectively serve us, it will need to understand our behaviour, interests, plans and even weaknesses.

Once they know this about consumers, they will be in a better position to advise, guide and execute our commands in line with what is good for consumers. This creates a dilemma for consumers about whether they should continue to be concerned about the use of their data or to allow the use of their data.

We are entering the AI era where it will be difficult to restrict access to your data. Consumer technology goods will become AI devices and by default, work better if they are enabled access to your data. The essence of an AI device means it functions better if, over time, it is customised for its user.

When an AI device has your health data, it is in a better position to make health predictions and even warn you. When your AI device knows your travel plans, it is in a better position to make clothing recommendations based on future weather. When your AI device can listen to you and answer based on what it hears and what it knows, you will probably grant it the right to listen and to know you even better.

We are slowly reaching a point where we will willingly grant access to data for access to enjoy AI benefits. This will be good for us. It does, however, mean that the companies that have access to consumer data ought to improve their standards.

Consumers of tech will prefer more companies that can be trusted with the protection of consumer data. This places a responsibility upon tech companies to also differentiate themselves along the lines of their stand on privacy and similar issues.

Samsung has launched products, GalaxyAI aand the S24 mobile phone, that pioneers AI in hardware. What I like about what I’ve seen so far is that the products will keep data in the product instead of sending it to the cloud. AI Pin and Rabbit are also some products that are promising to deliver AI benefits through their hardware.

They will do amazing things that will make life better, hopefully, while safeguarding user data. More technology products will follow their example and introduce AI in hardware and this will be good for consumers.

The products are different from products we’ve enjoyed in the past. Up to this point, technology knew little about their users. Even though some have been collecting data, such information was not used for the user.

Now going forward, technology products will be our extension. Each technology product will be customised for its user. We will have to consent to this knowing very well that it will be good and, at times, negative.

Overall, I’m positive about the future of AI in consumer tech goods but we will need more safeguards within tech companies. Self-regulation and industry regulation will be necessary.

We have an exciting future ahead of us which will allow us to have more time for meaningful things as technology will execute mundane things for us. We need to embrace the new era responsibly. We don’t have much of a choice if we want to still enjoy civilisation.

Wesley Diphoko is the editor-In-chief of FastCompany (SA) magazine. X: @WesleyDiphoko