Hey Alexa, protect my family! Wouldn’t it be nice if it was that easy? While using artificial intelligence to protect your loved ones might not work exactly like that, there are simple ways to utilize this tech to your advantage.
There is a lot of negativity surrounding AI in the media, with headlines warning about robots taking our jobs and potential privacy pitfalls. But before we start picturing ourselves in “The Matrix,” let’s explore how aspects of this computer system can actually be very helpful to us.
There are multiple ways you’re probably already using forms of AI that you’re barely aware of. If you’ve unlocked your phone with Apple’s Face ID or dictated a text response into your smartphone, you’ve put AI to work. Have you told Siri to send a text or asked your Google speaker what the temperature is outside? Yep, AI. Heck, even your basic Google search uses a form of AI to serve up results.
When you begin to realize all the ways that AI is already a part of your life, it gets less mysterious and scary. From home security, to avoiding traffic accidents, to keeping cyber- bullying at bay, AI can be an amazing safety tool in many ways. Below are four ways that AI is actually your friend, not foe.
Home Security Systems
One of the most exciting ways AI can be beneficial is when it’s used for home security. AI is the backbone of smart home automation systems that do everything from monitoring activity in and around your property, to closing blinds at the same time each day. On the more advanced end of the spectrum, it offers facial recognition technology — as in it recognizes who should (or shouldn’t) be in your home by scanning faces — then sends real-time alerts when unusual activity is detected. The more advanced systems can even learn your patterns and alert you to anomalies.
Some AI-backed home automation not only helps with safety, but is also super convenient. You can program it to turn on lights and TVs at certain times (which gives the appearance someone is home). And while it’s not a security feature, you can instruct your thermostats to automatically cool or heat your house before you arrive, based on your preferences. Pretty cool, right?
Identity Theft Protection and Parental Controls
It’s a staggering stat, but almost half of the American population was a victim of identity fraud in 20201and the number seems to be growing. Traditional ways of protecting identity are becoming less effective, as cybercriminals get more sophisticated. Many companies are turning to AI, using its ability to look for patterns and anomalies to try to fend off cyberattacks before they happen. AI has the ability to comb through mountains of data instantaneously to look for use of your personal information, such as your Social Security number and other sensitive data.
A certain number of identity theft companies have leaned into this technology with great results. Identity Guard is one such company that relies on AI tech beyond the standard credit monitoring, with scans of the dark web, 401(k) and investment monitoring, and home title monitoring.
Pro-Tip: While identity theft companies do a lot of the heavy lifting in helping you safeguard against fraud, continue to mitigate any risky behavior and use common sense when it comes to your personal information.
Moving beyond fraud protection, AI can help keep your children safe from online predators, from being cyberbullied, and from seeing content that’s not appropriate. Utilizing an AI-enabled search filter, such as Google SafeSearch, helps keep out unsavory material. Taking it further is the app Bark. Bark not only filters out questionable content, it also scans your child’s texts and other social media chats for potential bullying and inappropriate communication. It can also manage time limits for screens and track your child’s location.
FYI: There is no internet search filter that is 100 percent effective in filtering out all the bad stuff you don’t want your kid to see. We suggest you also keep an eye on things by going through their search history and checking their devices frequently.
If you have a senior in your life who either lives alone or is at increased risk of falling, or both, you have probably considered a medical alert system with fall detection. The AI that comes into play in fall detection is pretty mind-blowing. The AI system analyzes data that is sent from a sensor on the body and detects whether a fall has occurred. Newer tech uses kinetic cameras (much like ones used in a gaming system like Xbox Kinect) to instantly analyze video to determine if a person has fallen. Of course, some movements can trick it into thinking a fall has occurred, so while it's not fool-proof, it’s an impressive tool.
Medication management is another promising new AI tech that reminds patients when to take their daily meds. Adherence to medication schedules is particularly tough for patients with dementia and cognitive decline, so text alerts and other reminders are extremely helpful.
Did You Know? AI is now being used for disease detection in amazing new ways, such as scanning medical imagery looking for patterns and changes that are harder for doctors to see. Another box checked in the pro column for AI.
It’s not the flying cars that a lot of us pictured as kids, but AI safety features in cars nowadays are pretty futuristic. All Tesla models are outfitted with a mode called Autopilot, which uses cameras, sensors, and AI to control the vehicle's steering, acceleration, and braking. The system is remarkably good at helping you stay in your lane, maintain a safe distance from other vehicles, and avoid collisions.
While Teslas have some showy features, they aren’t the only name in the game that have top-notch safety elements. Capabilities like forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and lane-departure warning are becoming more available on everything from the Kia Carnival up to the Maserati Quattroporte. When considering your family’s safety in that new car purchase, looking for these features is important.
It really is a whole new world when it comes to AI integration into our lives, but fret not, as it’s mostly good. Anything that helps keep our most prized things in life — our families and the homes we live in — more safe and secure is a positive in our book.
Of course, as the old adage goes, we must also take the good with the bad. AI tech isn’t perfect (and certainly isn’t about to replace humanity), but when harnessed correctly, it can help us lead safer and more convenient lives.