Can AI ever really decide which family moments should be snapped or discarded?
Google’s latest innovation has been met with a decidedly mixed response from critics. Their big idea this month is to introduce a camera that is permanently ‘alert’ and makes its own decisions about when to record impromptu videos. With the ability to recognise individuals and, somehow, assess whether any given moment should be recorded for posterity, the new Google Clips presumably aims to become an educated and discerning member of the family.
Consumers and journalists can’t decide if this is an amazing addition that will add extra spontaneity and value to daily family life, or the final harbinger of the robot apocalypse.
Getting our heads around the technology is probably the biggest barrier to understanding whether or not this is a useful device. Even if AI can recognise people of interest, how can it possibly make very human judgements about whether their activities are of interest? Are we not just condemning ourselves to hours spent scanning through footage of people vacuuming, arguing and cleaning out the fridge?
Some of the concerns voiced have been frankly odd – such as, “what if the cameras are set up in inappropriate locations, such as changing rooms, bathrooms and bedrooms, so that perverts can spy on people?” Well, the clear answer to that is to not set Clips up in areas where videos are unlikely to be welcomed. The device is small, but it isn’t covert. And anyway, surely any self-respecting voyeur will want a more targeted feed than just whatever random moments a gadget deems to be charming, funny or unusual. Not really what they were going for…
Google have combated privacy fears by not including a microphone. So, if anyone is captured doing something they’d rather not share on YouTube, at least their conversations will remain private. But remember, a picture is worth a thousand words, friends.
Anyway, although the most likely outcome is just reams of boring footage that wouldn’t make it onto your highlights reel, imagine the possibilities if this idea actually works? Not only would it capture brilliant, one-off moments that are generally missed while you fumble for your phone, there could also be implications for other assessment-based image capture, such as surveillance, research and tackling crime.
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