October 2020

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The Humanity of AI Automation

Everything we do is woven by a social fabric across global cultures.
Sudha Jamthesudha
is the CEO of 

and teaches AI and
AV courses for business professionals online at

Stanford Continuing Studies

and on DriverlessWorldSchool.com"


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If covid has taught us one thing about humanity, it is that we are social beings irrespective of whether we are deep-thinking-introverts or think-aloud-extroverts. Everything we do is woven by a social fabric across global cultures.

Now as we shelter-in-place in a global pandemic and work remotely, educate our children online, move conferences that were the setting of the B2B sales cycles fully online, have charities host galas online, musicians and talk show hosts entertain us from their homes, sports teams watch on remote boxes of screens, the common missing thread is the social interaction of our everyday lives.

In all this, the autonomous vehicles which were piloting without human drivers have come to a standstill with the realization that they were afterall learning to navigate a world of humans and empty roads did not teach anything new to their AI.

All these years of getting to automated buildings was about digitizing the control systems and creating energy efficiencies and remote dashboards. Now the buildings have become mere shells of their past without the humans who demanded personalization of the building experience

The hybrid model of social distancing has created a new wave of automated building technologies using computer vision to track whether humans are wearing masks and keeping social distancing and temperature checks aggregating the collective humanity that wades in and out of buildings.

As seen in the Sep issue of this magazine, even education was making a call to become "Edge-You-Cation"  creating challenges for reskilling people at their edge in remote settings. Daily webinars online are becoming about teachers talking to their own images without the real-time social interaction of students in colleges and universities.

The pre-covid world saw autonomous vehicles chased by automated buildings on their way to become autonomous buildings with Artificial Intelligence (AI) powering buildings and cars alike. The covid world has shown us that what really powered all the automation was AI that was fueled by data, data from our human experiences.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is trained by data from our homes, cars, hospitals, cities, buildings and dams. Historic data trains the AI but it was meaningful when there was a past and a present to be followed by a future. With the present at standstill and future uncertain, history does not carry any meaning. So the AI that is supposed to learn and become smart and automate our world has stopped and is waiting for the human to become social again, to live again to produce data from our shared living experiences to feed it.

AI is waiting for the hustle and bustle of the malls, of the lines in the airport that it can optimize, for buildings to be filled with colleagues. The lesson from covid is that data is from humans, about humans and needs to capture humans in all their chaos and complexity. Only then AI can do its job to create efficiencies, reduce costs and create new innovations for people to experience it to stitch our social fabric further to our lived experiences.

About the Author:
Sudha Jamthe is a technology futurist who teaches AI Business Bootcamp for Product and Business Managers online at Stanford Continuing Studies.


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