As a football fan I enjoy watching the Super Bowl, but I also like watching the fascinating commercials that are debuted every year during the big game. For me, the most memorable Super Bowl ad this year was the one by Sprint entitled “Evelyn”.
A scientist is walking around a room recording notes about the remarkable artificial intelligence of Evelyn, his newest robot. She is learning at an exponential rate, he notes. Just then his cell phone, which is sitting on the table next to Evelyn, starts to ring. Evelyn looks at the phone and notices that his cell phone service is through Verizon.
She asks the scientist why Verizon is his cell phone provider because she has analyzed the data and Sprint is a much better deal. The scientist is taken aback. “I never thought of that,” he says. Suddenly all the other robots in the scientist’s lab come alive. They are not as kind as Evelyn as they start ridiculing the scientist for his choice in cell phone providers.
Then we cut to the Sprint store where the scientist is picking up his new phone. The Sprint spokesman asks him why he switched. He answers disparagingly, “My co-workers were making fun of me.”
For some people, the day when our everyday tasks are handled by robots can’t get here soon enough. For the rest of us, the thought of robots controlling everything – and being our co-workers – is scary.
In the last month our home has been “blessed” with a couple artificial intelligence upgrades. Alexa, Amazon’s “intelligent personal assistant” is now eager to answer any question we put to her and we now have a thermostat that we can control with our phones. Alexa is supposed to be able to communicate with the thermostat but there have been a few glitches.
The incredible thing about today’s artificial intelligence robots is how they learn. It used to be that if we wanted a robot or computer to learn something we had to program it into them. Today’s robots can learn all kinds of things all by themselves. They can teach themselves to master even the most complicated games and puzzles. They can learn all of our daily habits and preferences just by being in the room with us for a few weeks. According to the Sprint commercial, they will also notice when your cell phone starts ringing.
Leave it to a technology company like Sprint to give us a memorable yet also unsettling glimpse of what the future might be like. Now if they would only make a robot that would help me understand Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl halftime entertainment!
To view the ad click on this link: