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Is your AI addiction impacting your health?

Well that depends on which AI algorithms you are feeding


Photo Credit: Brandon Romanchuk | | Ratdesign


Often when my team and I speak about artificial intelligence (“AI”) people respond in one of two ways — or both! They are either fascinated by the impact we have yet to experience or scared of AI and the threat it poses to the future.


The question that we are all trying to answer–is AI good or is it evil?


What is AI?

AI can be described as the ability of a computer program or a machine to learn, to be “smart.” It is predicated on Machine Learning algorithms, that identify patterns and make recommendations. It identifies patterns by feeding on data–our data.


Read the article We are all already addicted to AI, you unwittingly joined the journey, and there is no escape!


Why are we talking about AI?

AI is the reason we watch what we do on Netflix and the reason we listen to what we listen to on Spotify. It influences the driving routes we take, the things we buy, the news we listen to and even the people we believe!


But we are also human and part of being human is having the autonomy to make decisions based on what we want.


How AI is being developed and how it is being used is influenced by the data we provide; it’s how we behave and interact with technology every single day.


If the way AI is going to be used is in the hands of those who control the data, and we are the data source, then the question becomes — will the data we generate reflect our good behaviour or our bad behaviour?



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The Impact of Human Motivation

I have always been fascinated with human motivation and consequent behaviour. We, humans, continue to do things we know are bad for us and are not motivated to do things that are good for us.


As technology and AI have become prevalent, I also question our motivations and behaviours related to AI. AI is developing based on the data we provide.


If we are not motivated to do good things–then the AI learns that too right?


AI can be the foundation to trigger desired healthy behaviour

Raj Hayer — Apple Watch Library


I recently bought an Apple Watch, partly because I like checking my ECG and having my emergency information on my wrist — a great replacement for the old medic alert bracelets! However, the real benefit has been that it has somehow become a motivation partner.


That’s because it transcends pure technology by addressing the issue of human motivation, what we need to give us a push to change our behaviour.


It becomes an accountability partner.


Raj Hayer — Apple Watch Library


I work at a computer every single day, often seated and my watch reminds me to stand up every hour. It’s not because I don’t know that I need to stand up and move — or breathe! — but it recognizes that I may need a prompt to remind me because I am so focused on what I am doing that I don’t remember to get up.



Raj Hayer — Apple Watch Library


More interestingly it also notifies me when my friends have completed their exercise. By creating accountability partners in my friends, the watch and the information encourage me to level up.


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AI can perpetuate poor, unhealthy behaviour

Over the past year, while in lockdown, I have not worked out more than usual. I have more free time on my hands, without commutes, without travel time to meetings, no opportunity to socialize and yet all I want to do when I finish with work is order in delivery and watch another season of my favourite show on Netflix.


Why is it so easy to do? Because the AI makes it easy. 80% of the shows watched on Netflix are recommended to us BY Netflix. And those recommendations are based on our behavioural data.


Photo Credit: Arseny Togulev | Ratdesign


Now, I am a huge fan of sci-fi, apocalyptic, Matrix, Terminator-type movies. You know the movies that perpetuate the idea that artificial intelligence will take over the world, scorch the earth, and we, as humans are likely to be exterminated.


Think about the irony of that for a moment. The Netflix AI is recommending movies to me about how AI will take over the world.


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Therefore if AI is based on our behaviour, isn't the more relevant question–are we good or evil?



Whether it is my Apple Watch, Netflix, TikTok or Alexa — technology develops where we give attention to it. We, as the users, demand what we need by using the products that work for us. If we agree that we are already addicted to AI, we must also acknowledge that we are the decision-makers. We can choose to sit on the couch watching Walking Dead for the third time. Or we can choose to set reminders on our watch and get motivated to get up and move instead.


Our health–or survival!–is our responsibility and our choice. Our health is impacted by our motivation and our behaviour. Is AI good or evil? Well, tough question, but for now it’s up to us. We (the humans) get to decide how it develops through our behaviour.


So what’s it gonna be? Take a walk or hit the couch?


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