This is not an article about artificial intelligence as defined in Wikipedia where a device perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of success at some goal. It's also not about machines being smarter than humans. At its very basic level, it's about smart devices that monitor human movements and responds to meet needs.
This morning we had to return to the Mall of Africa. They simply have the best toilets ever. Not only are they modern and clean, they have what I term an AI system in place. Once you've finished and walk away from the urinal a sensor on the wall automatically flushes the cistern for you.
Your next step is when you want to wash your hands. The washbasins also have sensors that notice your hands under the taps and make the water flow. When you move your hands out of the way the water stops. The soap is in the form of a foam ball as you press the dispenser. I perceive that the system is aimed at reducing water wastage from start to finish.
On your way out you usually need to dry your hands. The dryer is a booth where you place your hands and the blowers start automatically from two sides. There's also an ultra-violet light that goes on. I think it may be there to disinfect your hands.
I hope I've explained it well enough. The restrooms are always immaculately clean and a joy to use. It's a well thought out system. Thank you, Mall of Africa. I'm sure I don't need to elaborate on the fact that our hands come into contact with all sorts of germs and a quick trip to these restrooms are just the trick to clean them up properly. The AI system (my definition) makes things safer and saves water.
My wife and I also enjoyed the super air conditioning in the mall because we drove there in the searing heat.
We needed to pay an account at Edgars (a specialty clothing store). Since it was our first visit there we asked for directions to the accounts department. We were directed to the escalators inside the store. When we reached them I noticed that the one to take us up to the next floor was standing dead still and said to Maggie that we probably had to climb the stairs.
That wasn't necessary because just before we got onto the escalator it started moving and took us all the way to the top. Another AI system I suspect. Saving power.
What I've noticed there was not some super-brainy artificial intelligence (AI) system but a very smart solution to save unnecessary water wastage.
I am aware of the real deal where special software guides self-driven cars and trucks. There's also AI in probes to Mars and inter-solar exploration. On the positive side what I've mentioned before is probably the start. In time we'll see more and more improvements in all spheres. I remember when I was young we used to make phone calls from a very primitive device on a pole next to the road. Now we connect at a much higher level globally. And letters and books are threatened by digital technology.
Before I end I want to thank all visitors to this blog. May you have the very best 2018.
PS. These are just my own observations as a visitor to the mall. They are expressions of appreciation for an excellent experience.