Quest for Perception


Quest for Perception

Published on Feb 29, 2020 by Ashok Kasilingam


When you order your meal through Alexa from your home, do you associate yourself as being online or offline? You wake up in the morning and say “Good Morning” to Google Home - and “Google Home” in turn updates you with latest news on the given morning. Do you consider yourself as being online or offline?

Ever since the advent of internet, roughly all our interactions with the “online” world has been funneled through either keyboards on our computer or the keypads on our smartphones. These devices have been the predominant interface that enables us to the vast knowledge stored on the world wide web and that is what we consider “going online” so far.

To put it in other words, the machines which were receiving our input have been just acting as proxy and had no real way of understanding your inputs. For instance, the digital photos and audio recordings we take on these devices, were just a meaningless group of pixels that these machines store. The machines themselves could not make any correlations by associating the picture taken as you and identifying the voice in audio recording as yours.

Not any longer. Algorithms can now group the pixels from a photo or video into meaningful clusters and recognize objects similar to the way our brain does. These algorithms can now identify you, your voice, a cat, traffic light and so on. Identifying your voice and associating to your profile is the basic criteria by which Alexa and Google Home works. This is how these devices are able to take your commands and act on it (order a meal for you).

It's a new wave. It's all about extending and expanding this capability of algorithms in every walk of our life, by digitizing the world around us through the proliferation of sensors and smart devices (read it as “Internet of Things”). These devices are turning our physical world into digital data that can be analyzed and optimized by Deep Learning algorithms.

Google Photos is digitizing your pictures by identifying you and your family members and creating albums for you. Amazon Echo is digitizing the audio environment of people's home. Apple's iPhones perform the same digitization for our faces and identifies us. There are already companies which are digitizing urban traffic flows through cameras and object recognition AI.

The meaning of going online is getting blurred.