Arguments with my Sat Nav

By Claire Lamont

I drive a fair bit for work, navigating London’s clogged arteries with the help of my trusty - or not-so-trusty - sat nav. Thing is, it’s a pretty old sat nav now, and often its route suggestions are a bit circuitous, or just nonsense. My relationship with this old sat nav - which, OK I know, I should just replace - is that of indulgent friend. I sigh gently as it sends me into the congestion zone, bemused by its naivete. On some level, I imbue my old tech friend with human characteristics. Maybe I don’t buy a new one because after years of unreliable but loyal service, some part of me can’t bear to part with it.

I know I’m not the only one humanising my tech. How do you feel about your phone? Or perhaps more pertinently, how do you feel when you realise you’ve left your phone at home? Lost? Bereft? Liberated?

The incredible technological advances of the past few decades have revolutionised our relationship with machines. Tech has become a key part of our lives, including some therapeutic work. Just this week, researchers unveiled VR programmes to help people overcome their phobias. Advanced tech, some with AI capabilities, has started to become a normal part of rich, western lifestyles, epitomised by Siri’s cheery tone.

Last week, Amazon announced that its home companion Alexa will soon be able to learn from your everyday habits around the home and use this data to predict your needs. For example, if you leave the TV on when you leave the house, Alexa will recognise the change in your usual pattern and take care of it. Called ‘Hunches’, it’s a technology that some people will inevitably find creepy, or even threatening. It’s one thing for trusted friends or partners to get to know our routines, but machines?

At Untapped, we’re at the forefront of the AI revolution. Our acceleration programme provides users with emotionally-intelligent human support alongside smart AI insights. So we’re familiar with the anxiety this can provoke; the idea that a machine can crunch data and come back with insights we can’t see about ourselves. It can be an uncomfortable prospect. But the more we work with AI and with our users, the more the results speak for themselves. Our AI brings back insights we might never have otherwise seen, and we combine this with a strong human relationship through which users can process this knowledge and start to integrate it into their sense of selves, and make changes in their life.

This is our approach - enjoying the best of both worlds, as human and AI work alongside each other and collaborate to accelerate our users to new levels. We know that intelligent systems can only go so far in automating processes, so human skills and relational insight still play a key role in our service. Based on otherwise unavailable insights, we empower humans to take the next step, applying their personal judgment and experience as part of the acceleration process. Like my relationship with my sat nav or phone, part of this is adjusting to the newness and the unfamiliar nature of AI, and learning to trust its abilities. Working together, we believe that humans and AI can form an alliance more powerful than either on our own.