Can A.I. really be a good thing?
Updated: Mar 18, 2019
As technology continues to progress rapidly, the future of ‘artificial intelligence’ seems to be at the forefront of the debate in the world of tech. For most of us though, we’re none the wiser. So, we decided to pin down our own resident tech guru, Lee Williams (who is also the creator of Lifefyle’s learning software) and ask his views on whether A.I. can really be a good thing.
Can you explain what you mean by A.I./ 'learning’ technology and why it’s relevant in this category?
We refer to Lifefyle as using A.I. because Lifefyle makes decisions based on the data it is fed, rather than pre-programmed code. In other words - rather than picking a document and programming Lifefyle to look for x and deliver y, we are giving Lifefyle data sets and then it is looking for trends and using past experiences to make reasoned suggestions. We (us as developers initially and you as users) just tell it ‘no that’s wrong’ or ‘yes that’s right’. This technique is called Supervised Learning because it requires some human feedback to tell Lifefyle how well it did on that particular document. In our case, Lifefyle is learning about how to help the individual user and the user base in totality. For us, that's super important because no two life admin documents are the same. We can't just write code for every document that could ever exist, so for this to be achievable we had to use A.I. to read these documents, use observation and look at trends to inform future decisions.
It sounds amazing, but a little scary don't you think?
The usual picture of A.I. is robots that think for themselves and take over the world (think Boston Dynamics #IFeelSorryForAtlas)! In actual fact, it's applied to our everyday lives already. All the voice assistants we have now are powered by A.I., that little check you must do to prove you're not a robot is training A.I., the way Spotify suggests the next song is a machine learning algorithm etc. Yes, of course there are risks attached but I'm not convinced quite yet that robots spell the end for the human race!
What is the key issue/problem that you are looking to solve for people with Lifefyle, and the machine you are building?
I think that the key issue that we're trying to solve is one that everyone (including myself) battles with. Time management. It's that simple. If I can free up an hour for someone to go and spend it doing something that they enjoy - that helps them to really live their life - then I know I'm doing a good job. A simple example in my life, is that I recently spent 45 minutes looking for a number plate retention certificate! Ridiculous! 45 minutes wasted! It's those minutes wasted that are the problem in a society that moves at an alarming pace. That's the time that really adds up - spending an hour here or there to find a document or thinking about what I've got to do next week instead of relaxing with friends or family.
The weird part is that we all do it! None of us have a better way or the organisation to track all of these things. We just rely on email search and internet history to try and recreate the past few weeks and think 'I definitely remember thinking I need to keep this in a safe place'. It's madness and we want to change that for people.
What is the ultimate vision for the technology you are building?
The long-term vision for Lifefyle is where the platform has the ability to carry out your tasks for you, on your behalf. Of course, we are talking here about the boring tasks that no-one wants to do (don't worry - Lifefyle won't ever be able to meet up with your friends and have a good time for you!) For example, when your car MOT is up for renewal it will book your car in at the local garage, or it will renew your travel insurance without you having to do the research etc. We will also use local knowledge to tell you how you compare with other people - so 'your home insurance is more expensive than other people in your area' or 'you're paying too much for your car service'. We'll also use experiences and data to support big life events such as getting married, going on holiday, buying a house etc.
But, before we can get to any of that we are starting with the basics that in themselves are exceptionally useful... fast, secure ways of uploading, storing and structuring documents with A.I. assistance, an interactive and integrated to-do list and so on. Doing this alone will help reduce stress and stop wasted hours. That's the first phase of development which I refer to as the 'organisation' stage which is necessary before we can go into the 'empowerment' stage where Lifefyle works actively for you in the background.
You mentioned 'secure' above - so is Lifefyle 'safe'? Given that there could be a lot of personal information going in, how can you reassure us that our data is safe in Lifefyle's hands?
In short - yes - Lifefyle is safe! We have built in a lot of counter measures to stop someone being able to just walk in and grab your data. You can only access Lifefyle through an encrypted chanel (256-Bit TLS) so any data you send to and from our servers is secure. At the server level all documents are stored offsite at a Google Datacenter and encrypted at rest using AES128. In our databases your passwords are hashed and salted using the Blowfish cipher, all servers are secured with 4096bit RSA crypto-system. We've also added the option for 2 Factor Authentication as an additional optional protection measure for users. Unfortunately the biggest security flaw with any system falls with the users who use them - weak passwords and social engineering is going to the the biggest security threat to Lifefyle, so to counter this we also enforce minimum password strength and we're looking into password refresh reminders being generated automatically.
Ultimately, technological advancement is becoming the norm across all areas of our life. As I said earlier, in most cases it's about enhancing our way of living. Lifefyle is unique in that it is specifically designed for your life admin - but you are probably already storing everything digitally anyway - so this is just a way to manage it all together, with the reassurance that we've taken the toughest approach to security and data safety. It's likely to be safer than what you are currently doing - that's for sure!
Lee is a Master of Science by Research and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and has been working in software development for the past 8 years. A full stack developer, he's worked across several areas of stack from native apps, back-end development web applications and embedded systems across a number of fields. He met his fellow Lifefyle co-founders in 2017 and, finding himself irresistibly intrigued and excited by the Lifefyle concept, he joined the business as Technical Co-Founder and is now responsible for bringing the product to life.
To learn more about Lifefyle visit www.lifefyle.com