Your Smartphone Is Not Quite Smarter Than You (Yet)


Can smartphones surpass human intelligence? Probably not, according to touch-screen technology pioneer James Tagg.

It's a trick question, though, because few can agree on a definition of what "intelligence" actually is (and don't get any scientist started on the thorny issue of "consciousness").

"Intuition and creativity cannot be replicated by computers," Tagg said at a Heroes of Mobile event in Los Angeles this week. "But a computationally powerful A.I. can definitely augment human endeavors."

Tagg, an author and co-founder of international SIM card maker Truphone, told those assembled that he is keen to use artificial intelligence in a pragmatic collaboration with people, to fill in the gaps where we are sadly lacking.

"As I see it, the job of A.I. is to fix all the things that are broken in humans. Such as our inability to remember long strings of numbers or often blanking when putting names to faces. If humans concentrate on creative endeavors, we can leave the intellectual grunt work to A.I. to help us go further."

To this end, Tagg incorporated A.I. into the next generation of Truphone. He pointed to those who dial into a conference call from their mobile but need to be on the move, and get dropped from the session as soon as they enter an elevator. Remembering the string to get back in, and the PIN required to re-join the call, is not something at which humans excel. But with A.I., Truphone can reconnect without human involvement using voiceprinting for automatic authentication.

"All this will come to the fore as we're not necessarily connecting people to each other now...but machine to machine within the IoT," he said. "We're moving from a stage where it's not just people traveling and needing international call solutions, but things. All IoT devices have SIMs inside them, and they need A.I. embedded to help manage them."

Putting on a Good Show
The UK-based Heroes of Mobile, meanwhile, is the brainchild of Helen Keegan (aka technokitten).

"I had the idea of creating Heroes of Mobile back in 2010 because I like to bring different parts of the mobile ecosystem together, showcase what's happening, and see what emerges when different disciplines collide - it always leads to much more interesting products and collaborations," she told PCMag before the most recent event. "Also there was a lot of nonsense being talked about in the early 2000s at some really boring mobile conferences and I wanted to put on a better show."

The show's US tour has also taken in New York, San Francisco, and Mountain View.

"Each event had its own unique mixture of people, it's true, and it's always fascinating to see who shows up," Keegan said. "San Francisco's evening was held in a speakeasy and was more of a 'meet up,' seeing old acquaintances in mobile and making new contacts. In contrast, at Mountain View, the audience was highly engaged in debating James's view on the limits of artificial intelligence, and discussing what and what's not possible in that realm. It was a much more intense, and technical night."

What's next for Heroes of Mobile? Keegan is not traveling for a while because her new tech venture, Hacklands, a family-friendly technology and creativity fest, is scheduled for Aug. 19-21 on a Tagg's English farm. And while the English countryside is not known for great connectivity, Keegan is not worried.

"It's...where [Tagg] started Truphone, so the whole place is wired and a very tech-heaven," she confirmed.

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