Surprised by AI: Artificial Intelligence in Unexpected Places

Imagine if you will, a world where all of the images in a Dataspace newsletter have been generated by AI… and therefore are both distorted and unsettling.

“Robot Surprise”
“Robot Surprise”

To be honest, the title of this newsletter may also be a bit distorted and misleading – at this point in time are there really any industries or sectors where the use of AI is actually unexpected? Perhaps not, though there are certainly instances which may not be immediately obvious. In fact, with a little digging I uncovered a wide range of areas with fascinating AI applications that may be a bit surprising. There was enough material for a whole newsletter series on the topic, so for today I will be highlighting some of my findings that are the most recent/relevant to current events.

Pretty excited about this one, since it includes references to the accomplishments of some personal friends who are making important contributions to the use of AI in their respective fields.

For additional entertainment (my own) the visual components to today’s newsletter are reflective of the intersections between AI and art (??) – as they were all generated by a couple of AI text to image API’s! The heading for each section is, in fact, the text that I fed into the generator to achieve the visual output. (Click on each image to access the site that generated it and try for yourself! NOTE: The same text can be used to generate multiple versions of an image.)


“Teachers are teaching robots to help teach teachers”

The MIT INSPIRE CS-AI Fellowship is a collaboration between educators and computer science engineers leveraging AI to assist in teacher education through the development of web-based simulations for classroom situations. The program recruits educators from a variety of backgrounds to help design the AI that will simulate interpersonal interaction in the classroom. There are plenty of interesting things to click around off the homepage – including the chance to read more/try out some of the simulations, and links to some of the publications resulting from this research initiative.


“Using AI to protect your I’s”

Certainly not an unexpected field to find AI at work – however, the ever-changing ways in which AI tools can be applied in healthcare leaves plenty of room for surprising new developments. On August 5th the California based company Eyenuk announced that they had received FDA approval for their EyeArt autonomous AI system – leveraging AI diagnostics to make essential exams and access to preventative care more accessible to patients.

Sports & Entertainment

“Bots are the only attendees at sports games”

With several professional sports leagues attempting to keep their seasons moving forward while minimizing the health risk to both players and fans, watching televised sporting events take place in empty stadiums is the new normal for the foreseeable future. However, one network’s attempt to create the illusion of pre-Covid normalcy involves generating virtual fans filling the seats at MLB games. (Does this cross the line between game and video game?)

To accomplish this, they’re leveraging the power of Epic’s Unreal Engine – which also incorporates the capacity for “behavior trees” to manage the “decisions” of AI controlled elements

If Covid drags on and these safety restrictions need to remain in place for the long term, could this open up the space for fans to design their own avatars, develop their characters’ own behavior trees, and have their creations populate a new kind of augmented reality stadium?? In this hypothetical future, watching the “fans” could end up being more entertaining than the actual game being played!

“AI Surrounding Everything, Many Applications”

With many more “unexpected” AI applications to explore in the future, I will conclude with one final text-to-image reflection:

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