AI Deep Personalization: The Case of AI Self-Driving Cars

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By Lance Eliot, the AI Trends Insider

Does your car know you? In some relatively simple ways, it might.

The other day I rented a car during a trip up to Palo Alto to speak at an industry conference and upon getting into the rental it took me about a solid five to ten minutes to adjust the car to my preferences. I’m guessing you’ve done the same from time-to-time when getting into a rental car, though hopefully spending less time in doing so (in this instance, I wasn’t in a hurry and opted to play around with various features and settings).

The driver’s seat was too close to the steering wheel and so I moved it back a few inches. Side mirrors of the car were at an angle and a position that made them unusable for me, so I re-angled them.  It was going to be a somewhat lengthy drive in the rental car and so I opted to set the radio station settings for ease of choosing the ones that I like. For the in-car temperature control, I adjusted the settings to fit to my liking. The GPS system was a handy capability and I decided to go ahead and enter my destinations into it.

As an aside, I am continually amazed that when I get a rental car that has GPS that the prior renters often do not erase their destinations and I get a chance to see where other people have gone, which it’s not as though I am prying since the prior destinations show-up the moment you enter newly desired destinations. My rule-of-thumb is that I always erase my entered destinations upon returning the car. But, hey, that’s just me, always thinking about privacy aspects and cars.

For my article about privacy and cars, see: https://aitrends.com/ai-insider/privacy-ai-self-driving-cars/

For safety aspects, see my article: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/safety-and-ai-self-driving-cars-world-safety-summit-on-autonomous-tech/

There were some facets of the car that I had to orient myself to and then just live with the settings in whatever manner the auto maker had decided to pre-establish them. Where is the button for locking and unlocking the doors? Where are the cup holders? Where are the emergency flashers if I need them in a hurry? Are the headlights working (one time, I rented a car and had not checked the headlights right away, and later on at night when I needed them, turns out one of the headlights wasn’t working)? And so on.

In some respects, I was able to “personalize” the car to my own preferences, such as the seat settings, the temperature settings, the GPS destinations, etc. There were other aspects that I could not personalize and yet would need to know how to access and use them, even if I could not adjust them to my own preferences. All in all, as mentioned, it took me a few focused minutes to get the car ready for my use.

Another aspect that you typically need to get used to when using a rental car is the nature of the brakes, the accelerator, and the steering wheel. If you are used to driving your own car, you’ve likely grown accustomed to how much pressure to apply to the brakes in order to bring the car to a halt. Likewise, you’ve gotten used to the amount of pressure needed to do a rapid acceleration versus a slower acceleration via the accelerator pedal. For the steering wheel of your car, you are likely quite familiar with how much of a turning effort of the steering wheel will cause the wheels of the car to turn.

Since cars typically differ in terms of how sensitive the pedals and steering wheel are, whenever you get into a different car than your own, you often need to figure out what the sensitivity level is like in this “stranger” car that you are going to use. Though I’ve mentioned this aspect regarding a rental car, you can experience the same sense of sensitivity differences by driving say a friend’s car. There’s nothing special about getting to know a rental car’s sensitivity, it’s just a matter of the difference between what you normally drive and the act of driving something else, whether it is a rental car or a friend’s car or whatever.

One time, I rented a car that was the same make and model of my car at home. I assumed that the feel of the car would be identical. Turns out that the nature of how the rental agency had maintained the car led to some subtle differences in how the pedals and the steering wheel reacted. It was quite similar to what I was used to driving, but not exactly the same.

If someone drove my car and then drove that rental car, I’d bet that most would not be able to discern a difference. It was only because I was attuned to my own car’s aspects that I could discern the rather minor differences. On a macro level, they both seemed to have the same sensitivity. On a micro level, having driven my own car every day for my daily commute, I am “at one” with my own car and how it handles on the road (should I be proud of this fact or does it indicate that I spend too much time on the road?).

I had an embarrassing moment some months ago that when I rented a car at the airport and had several colleagues accompanying me on the trip. We all piled into the rental car and we were in a hurry to go since the flight had been late arriving at the airport. I turned on the engine and knew that we were in a rush, so I skipped my usual “pre-flight” checking of the car and did not do any of my customary preferences settings. Without any delay, I put my foot on the accelerator pedal and gave it a light tap. It was an amount of a tap that on my car at home would have caused the car to barely inch forward.

But, yikes! Unfortunately, this rental was about as sensitive as any car that I’ve ever driven. A light tap to the accelerator caused the car to gun forward and my passengers were thrown back into their seats. Hey, rocket man, they exclaimed, take it easy and let’s aim to get to the event in one piece.

For more about aspects of so-called rocket man driving, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/rocket-man-human-drivers-ai-self-driving-cars-outrunning/

For the human foibles of driving, see my article: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ten-human-driving-foibles-self-driving-car-deep-learning-counter-tactics/

For more about various driving styles, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/driving-styles-and-ai-self-driving-cars/

It took me a few minutes of driving throughout the airport area to gradually get used to the sensitivity levels of the accelerator, the sensitivity of the brakes, and the sensitivity of the steering wheel. Usually, if any of them requires a lighter touch than my car, they all then require a lighter touch. Similarly, if any of them require a heavier touch, they all require a heavier touch. This particular rental car was kind of weird in that the accelerator responded to the lightest touch, while the brakes required putting ten thousand pounds of foot pressure to get the car to slow down, and the steering wheel had an odd aspect that if you turned it clockwise it was easy but if you turned it counter-clockwise it was a battle.

Lead Foot Meets the Conservative Driver

During that trip, one of my colleagues was quite vocal about her preferences of driving style. I tend to be a more conservative driver. I generally abide by the speed limits and like to come to a full stop at stop signs. This was causing my colleague to go berserk. When I rolled up to a stop sign, after having come to full stops several times previously, she said loudly that lead foot was going to once again come to a complete stop and make us all wait for heaven knows why. She was vocal throughout the visit and though I offered to let her drive, she continued to insist that she was Okay with my driving and I should just keep going.

After we had gone to the event, we had time to drive around and look at the local touristy types of things, like driving to see some notable statues, bridges, fancy homes, and the rest. One of my colleagues was especially interested in old-time movie theatres and knew all about them. I drove somewhat in a meandering fashion throughout the town and whenever we saw a classic movie theatre, I’d pull over, so we could admire it for a few minutes.

In a sense, I was trying to personalize the driving experience for my colleagues. This included driving in a manner or style that would be comfortable for them. It also included driving to places that they might like. In addition, it involved driving slowly and possibly idling to see something, while in other instances driving quickly whenever there wasn’t anything notable for them see.

I’m sure you’ve done the same. Perhaps when you have visitors come to your town or city, you drive them around. In doing so, where you drive and how you drive might differ substantially from how you and drive and where you drive on a normal basis. Here in Southern California, we have the world-famous Disneyland, and any visitor that comes to see me is usually eager to go see the theme park. Meanwhile, having seen Disneyland a million times already, I’ve gotten used to it and barely even notice it when driving past Mickey Mouse and his pals (well, Ok, I admit that I get a big smile and instantly get that goosebumps feeling).

For driving and seeing local aspects, I’ve referred to this as Extra Scenery Perception, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/extra-scenery-perception-esp2-self-driving-cars-beyond-norm/

For the nature of driving when on a family trip, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/family-road-trip-and-ai-self-driving-cars/

Overall, your car at home has likely been personalized by the means of how you have set the seats, the temperature controls, the radio stations, and the like. You also presumably know by heart the sensitivity of the driving controls, knowing how much pressure to apply to the pedals and to the steering wheel to produce a smooth motion of the car (or, whatever motion of the car that you prefer). You have gotten used to the local areas that you drive, and so you know shortcuts and places to go, along with areas to avoid.

What does this have to do with AI self-driving cars?

At the Cybernetic AI Self-Driving Car Institute, we are developing AI software for self-driving cars. One aspect for AI self-driving cars is the potential for them to provide deep personalization.

Personalization refers to how well your AI self-driving car knows you and your preferences, along with the AI trying to fulfill those preferences as best it can.

There is a range of personalization. In some cases, the personalization might be relatively shallow and not provide much of any personalizing to you. In other circumstances, the personalization can be “deep” in that the AI has been able to get to “know” you via in-depth pattern matching, and can potentially anticipate your preferences and abide by those preferences when feasible.

For my article about the bifurcation of autonomy, see:https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/reframing-ai-levels-for-self-driving-cars-bifurcation-of-autonomy/

For my article about the driving controls debate, see: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ai-boundaries-and-self-driving-cars-the-driving-controls-debate/

For plasticity and deep learning, see my article: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/plasticity-in-deep-learning-dynamic-adaptations-for-ai-self-driving-cars/

more about edge problems, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/edge-problems-core-true-self-driving-cars-achieving-last-mile/  

Many of the auto makers and tech firms that are developing AI self-driving cars are considering this notion of personalization to be an edge problem right now. An edge problem is a corner case or considered at the edge of the core aspects that you are trying to solve. Right now, the auto makers and tech firms are focused on getting an AI self-driving car to do the normal things that you would want a self-driving car to do, such as driving down the road and not hitting anything along the way.

I won’t get into a debate herein about whether or not personalization is an edge problem per se. Admittedly, an AI self-driving car that can drive according to your personal preferences is certainly not as high a priority as getting the AI self-driving car to drive the car overall. It doesn’t do much good to have personalization if the AI cannot even drive the car properly and appropriately. Nonetheless, I’d assert that humans will generally want to have personalization when being an occupant in an AI self-driving car and that ultimately it is something that will be worthwhile to have included into the AI self-driving car capabilities.

I’d like to first clarify and introduce the notion that there are varying levels of AI self-driving cars. The topmost level is considered Level 5. A Level 5 self-driving car is one that is being driven by the AI and there is no human driver involved. For the design of Level 5 self-driving cars, the auto makers are even removing the gas pedal, brake pedal, and steering wheel, since those are contraptions used by human drivers. The Level 5 self-driving car is not being driven by a human and nor is there an expectation that a human driver will be present in the self-driving car. It’s all on the shoulders of the AI to drive the car.

For self-driving cars less than a Level 5, there must be a human driver present in the car. The human driver is currently considered the responsible party for the acts of the car. The AI and the human driver are co-sharing the driving task. In spite of this co-sharing, the human is supposed to remain fully immersed into the driving task and be ready at all times to perform the driving task. I’ve repeatedly warned about the dangers of this co-sharing arrangement and predicted it will produce many untoward results.

For my overall framework about AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/framework-ai-self-driving-driverless-cars-big-picture/

For the levels of self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/richter-scale-levels-self-driving-cars/

For why AI Level 5 self-driving cars are like a moonshot, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/self-driving-car-mother-ai-projects-moonshot/

For the dangers of co-sharing the driving task, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/human-back-up-drivers-for-ai-self-driving-cars/

Let’s focus herein on the true Level 5 self-driving car. Much of the comments apply to the less than Level 5 self-driving cars too, but the fully autonomous AI self-driving car will receive the most attention in this discussion.

Here’s the usual steps involved in the AI driving task:

  •         Sensor data collection and interpretation
  •         Sensor fusion
  •         Virtual world model updating
  •         AI action planning
  •         Car controls command issuance

Another key aspect of AI self-driving cars is that they will be driving on our roadways in the midst of human driven cars too. There are some pundits of AI self-driving cars that continually refer to a utopian world in which there are only AI self-driving cars on the public roads. Currently there are about 250+ million conventional cars in the United States alone, and those cars are not going to magically disappear or become true Level 5 AI self-driving cars overnight.

Indeed, the use of human driven cars will last for many years, likely many decades, and the advent of AI self-driving cars will occur while there are still human driven cars on the roads. This is a crucial point since this means that the AI of self-driving cars needs to be able to contend with not just other AI self-driving cars, but also contend with human driven cars. It is easy to envision a simplistic and rather unrealistic world in which all AI self-driving cars are politely interacting with each other and being civil about roadway interactions. That’s not what is going to be happening for the foreseeable future. AI self-driving cars and human driven cars will need to be able to cope with each other.

For my article about the grand convergence that has led us to this moment in time, see: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/grand-convergence-explains-rise-self-driving-cars/

See my article about the ethical dilemmas facing AI self-driving cars: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ethically-ambiguous-self-driving-cars/

For potential regulations about AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/assessing-federal-regulations-self-driving-cars-house-bill-passed/

For my predictions about AI self-driving cars for the 2020s, 2030s, and 2040s, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/gen-z-and-the-fate-of-ai-self-driving-cars/

Four Levels of Personalization

Returning to the topic of personalization, I categorize the potential levels of personalization of AI self-driving cars into these classes:

  •         No personalization
  •         Shallow personalization
  •         Substantive personalization
  •         Deep personalization

The lowest level, consisting of no personalization, gets assigned when there is no particular attempt at personalization and that by any reasonable judgment we would likely agree that there is nothing really built into the AI self-driving car system for personalization purposes. The shallow form of personalization consists of attempts at personalization that seem rather token and flimsy. Substantive personalization would be personalization that is genuine in nature and spirit, providing a somewhat convincing set of personalization aspects. The topmost category is the deep personalization mode. For deep personalization, the AI needs to have gone all out to provide a wide and in-depth set of well-coordinated and aligned personalization capabilities

At this time, most of the auto makers and tech firms are by default aiming at no personalization (or, at best, shallow personalization), meaning that they are not devoting key resources or attention toward personalizing their AI self-driving car technology due to it being considered an edge problem. They have in mind to eventually get around to adding personalization, but it is not in the cards for years to come, until they’ve go squared away with the other self-driving car foundational elements.

One AI developer told me that they are indeed going to have personalization that launches with the release of their true AI self-driving car, and when I asked if he could describe in general terms what the personalization feature would be able to do, he explained proudly that the AI would be able to say the name of the owner of the car. For example, suppose Samantha has bought an AI self-driving car and whenever she uses the self-driving car it would greet her by saying “Hello, Samantha” and while in the car and on a journey the system would say things like “Samantha, only fifteen minutes until reaching your destination.”

I could not believe that this AI developer was serious about claiming that this was personalization. The mere act of repeating aloud the name of the owner is about as lame as you could get in the personalization categorization scheme. The AI would not know anything about the person and would be simply uttering the sound “Samantha” as inserted into templates of Natural Language Process (NLP) that was being designed for interaction with the car occupants.

For more about NLP, see my article: https://www.aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/car-voice-commands-nlp-self-driving-cars/

I asked what happens if someone else borrows Samantha self-driving car, what would the AI say to that person? He indicated that when the person gets into the self-driving car, the AI would ask if the person was Samantha, and if the person said they are not Samantha, it then would not do any “personalization” and thus would not say the word “Samantha” anymore.

I felt like I had landed back into the 1980s of computer technology. I could not decide whether to classify this as “No Personalization” or perhaps to satisfy the AI developer’s claim that there was “some” amount of personalization that I might add a new sub-classification known as Ultra Shallow Personalization.

Anthropomorphizing Automated Systems Can Lead to False Understandings

I pointed out to him that there are some potential adverse consequences related to his so-called personalization. One being that if the human occupant believes that the AI knows more than it does, the human might make undue assumptions about what the AI is capable of doing, and the human might get themselves and the AI self-driving car into some untoward spots. By parroting the name of the person, it could suggest that the AI knows a lot more than it does.  Anthropomorphizing automated systems can lead to false understandings by humans about what the technology can and cannot do.

For more about the dangers of anthropomorphizing AI, see my article: https://aitrends.com/features/socio-behavioral-computing-for-ai-self-driving-cars/

I also was a bit taken aback that the AI developer and their firm had apparently not considered some relatively easy ways to augment this notion of using the person’s name (assuming that’s the route they wanted to go with). Allow me to elaborate.

The AI self-driving car has sensors such as cameras, some pointing outward and some pointing inward, and it would be relatively straightforward to have the cameras do a facial recognition match to anyone that approaches or that gets into the self-driving car. From that aspect alone, at least the AI could likely ascertain whom Samantha was (after initially establishing her in the system), and automatically henceforth be able to say her name when appropriate (and not say her name when appropriate).

I’m not suggesting that the AI would know anything about Samantha per se, but at least it could do the legwork of using facial recognition to likely ascertain when she is near to the self-driving or within the self-driving car. This is something that they could do with today’s technology and would not require any significant leap or advancement to craft.

Consider too what else could take place if the facial recognition was adopted.

As an example, this would allow potentially for the AI to unlock the car doors to let Samantha into the self-driving car. If she seemed to be walking toward the self-driving car and upon the facial recognition recognizing her, the AI could unlock the car doors based on the assumption that she was likely to want to get into the self-driving car. If she was walking nearby but not toward the self-driving car, the AI might be “smart” enough to realize not to yet unlock the car doors and wait until the moment seemed more opportune for the action (otherwise, it might become frustrating to the person that each time they neared their self-driving car it kept unlocking itself, which maybe was not what the person actually desired to have happen all of the time).

There is also the possibility of allowing Samantha to provide commands to the AI self-driving car while being outside of the AI self-driving car.

Suppose that Samantha wanted the AI system to go over to the grocery store and pick-up her awaiting groceries that had been picked-and-packed by a clerk at the store based on an order she placed via her smartphone. She might walk over to her AI self-driving car and tell it to go to the grocery store, wait there and pick-up the groceries, and then come back to the house.

If Samantha had done this kind of action previously, the AI could potentially anticipate such a command and even ask Samantha as to whether that’s what she wanted to have undertaken.

This then starts us down the path of understanding true personalization in terms of having the AI be able to identify patterns of behavior that can then be “learned” about over time by the AI and then reflected in what the AI does related to the actions of the self-driving car.

One feature that some cars have today consists of allowing you to set the driver’s seat in terms of its position forward, its tilt, its heating or cooling pad capability, and so on. Once you’ve set things to how you like the seat, you can have the seat configuration “memorized” (actually, just stored in memory of the computer), and later on if someone messes with your seat settings you can have it return to your personalized settings.

The AI of the self-driving car can do that same kind of “memorization” and yet go even further by being able to consider the context of the circumstances. Context can be crucial to have personalization that makes sense versus personalization that is “dumb” and simply taking place on a rote basis. Recall that I mentioned that when Samantha approaches the self-driving car that it would not always necessarily immediately unlock the door. Always unlocking the door would be a simplistic rote kind of approach, akin to the seat configuration memorization of today’s cars.

I had earlier told you about the time that I was driving several of my colleagues and one of them got mildly upset that I was such a conservative driver. Yes, I am normally a law abiding and sensibly cautious driver. That does not mean though that I always drive that way. If there’s an emergency and I need to quickly get to the nearest hospital, I assure you that I am going to put the metal to the floor. The context determines to some extent the nature of the driving style that I would choose to use.

Let’s use another example to consider the importance of context in personalization.

Suppose that Samantha has traveled in her AI self-driving car many times. She has especially used it to get to work, along with getting her to the gym after work.

The AI, if well prepared with personalization capabilities, would be silently noting the use of the self-driving car by Samantha. Times of day and days of the week that the self-driving car takes her to work and when she goes to the gym. Various driving paths to get to those destinations and the variants of traffic conditions would be tracked. There are perhaps some instances wherein she was in a rush and asked the AI to try and as quickly as feasible get to work. And so on.

Within the AI self-driving car, there isn’t a driver’s seat, but there are other seats for the occupants. Perhaps Samantha prefers to sit in the seat on the right-side of the self-driving car and prefers in the morning commute that it be swiveled inward so that she can catch-up on her reading and preparations for the work day ahead. After work, she prefers to have the seat swiveled to readily look out the window of the self-driving car and watch the scenery as she heads home or to the gym. And so on.

These are all facets of her behavior related to the AI self-driving car. The AI can keep track of these aspects, doing so not as standalone matters but within the overall context of how they arise. By analyzing the collected data, the AI can potentially spot trends and preferences of Samantha, making use of Machine Learning (ML) and then make use of those gleaned insights to personalize the behavior of the AI self-driving car to suit her needs.

For ensemble ML, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ensemble-machine-learning-for-ai-self-driving-cars/

For benchmarks of ML, see my article: https://aitrends.com/ai-insider/machine-learning-benchmarks-and-ai-self-driving-cars/

For my article about federated ML, see: https://aitrends.com/ai-insider/federated-machine-learning-for-ai-self-driving-cars/

For my article about explanations and ML, see: https://aitrends.com/ai-insider/explanation-ai-machine-learning-for-ai-self-driving-cars/

I realize that this gathering of data about Samantha and her behavior, along with analyzing it, raises questions about privacy aspects. The auto makers and tech firms will be facing some tough issues about the degree to which the AI should and should not do this kind of tracking. Furthermore, will Samantha know that she is being tracked? Wil she be able to switch on or off the tracking?

Another question involves the storage of this tracking data. We might assume that the data about Samantha is stored locally in the on-board AI system of the self-driving car. But, there is also the use of OTA (Over-the-Air) features for AI self-driving cars, allowing for data to be shared up into the cloud of the auto maker or tech firm, and also for the auto maker or tech firm to pump updates and patches down into the AI self-driving car.

For more about OTA, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/air-ota-updating-ai-self-driving-cars/

The tracking data about Samantha and her use of the AI self-driving car could readily be pushed up into the cloud of the auto maker or tech firm. You might wonder why they would do so.

Anonymize Samantha Into the Cloud for the Benefit of Fleet Learning

Presumaby, the data could be used for aspects such as fine tuning the AI system based on the kinds of behavior that people are exhibiting inside the AI self-driving cars of that auto maker or tech firm. In essence, they could potentially anonymize the data and try to find patterns collectively across all those that are using their brand of AI self-driving cars. This is known as fleet learning.

Another potential use might involve being able to readily personalize other AI self-driving cars of the auto maker or tech firm whenever Samantha uses a different such self-driving car.

Suppose she is at work and has let a friend make use of her AI self-driving car. She heads out to the curb and hails an AI self-driving car that is driving along as a ridesharing service. She gets into the AI self-driving car. Based on facial recognition, it might have grabbed Samantha’s tracking history from the cloud of the auto maker or tech firm, and now this AI self-driving car can act as personalized as the one that she owns.

These are all happy face scenarios about how the tracking of Samantha’s behavior is being used.

Of course, there are sad face scenarios too. An auto maker or tech firm could potentially mine the data and then opt to sell the data to third parties or use it to beam advertisements to her. I’ve implied this is a sad face scenario, though it could also be a happy face scenario if Samantha had indicated explicitly that she wanted this data usage to occur and perhaps she got compensated somehow for allowing her tracking data to be used in this manner.

The deep personalization would not solely be focused on the “owner” of an AI self-driving car. Imagine that Samantha has a husband, two children, and a dog. The AI would have the capability to track each of their respective behaviors, including the dog (keep in mind that AI self-driving cars will likely be used to transport people’s pets, in addition to transporting humans). Also, perhaps Samantha let’s her friends and co-workers use her AI self-driving car, which they too could then be tracked in terms of their behavior related to the use of the self-driving car, allowing for personalization for them too.

When you consider that AI self-driving cars will most likely be used as ridesharing vehicles, there is going to be ample opportunity to track the behavior of humans in terms of their use of AI self-driving cars. Samantha might decide to earn some extra bucks off her AI self-driving car by allowing it to roam during the work hours and serve as a ridesharing service. The people using her AI self-driving car are then potentially encompassed by the personalization capability.

For more about ridesharing of AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/ridesharing-services-and-ai-self-driving-cars-notably-uber-in-or-uber-out/

For the affordability of AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/affordability-of-ai-self-driving-cars/

For the non-stop use of AI self-driving cars, see my article: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/non-stop-ai-self-driving-cars-truths-and-consequences/

Creepy Personalization in the Eye of the Beholder

When I’ve spoken about the use of deep personalization at AI self-driving car industry events, some inquisitive person invariably asks the rather pointed question of whether this might be creepy. Yes, I certainly agree there is a kind of “creepiness” factor to this. Though, you can say the same about any kind of personalization service (especially the “deeper” or more highly personalized it gets, rather than shallowly personalized versions which are easier to shrug off).

Creepiness can be in the eye of the beholder, which perhaps this next personal anecdote might so reveal.

Years ago, I was doing some consulting work for an east coast client and the client arranged for my hotel stay nearby their headquarters. I arrived at the hotel around dinner time and got out of a cab that had brought me from the airport to the curb directly in front of the hotel. The bellman grabbed my bags from the trunk of the cab and told me to proceed to the front desk, not needing to wait for him.

When I got up to the front desk, the check-in clerk greeted me by using my name. I was puzzled that the clerk would know my name, since I hadn’t yet stated what my name was. I asked how she knew my name. She explained that the bellman had looked at my luggage tags and then had radioed to her that I was coming up to the front desk to check-in.

Clever or creepy?

I then went to my room with my bags. I left them sitting in the room, still closed up, and was in a hurry to meet with the client for dinner. I figured that after dinner and when I got back to the hotel room, I’d then have time to open my bags and remove the items that I wanted to store in the room. Meanwhile, I had been reading a book and placed it onto the bed, face down, at the place where I was reading, so that I’d know what page I was on when I returned to the room.

After a very pleasant dinner with some fine wine, I managed to ultimately get back to my hotel room. When I came into the room, the lights were dimmed, and I could see that the bed had been turned down. I realized that the nighttime service that you see at some hotels had taken place. I’m not normally very keen on someone coming into my room, but anyway it is customary in many hotels and didn’t seem especially unusual.

I then noticed that the drawers in the room were slightly ajar and the clothes closet was slightly open. This got my curiosity going. When I opened one of the ajar drawers, I saw that my various underclothing and socks had been neatly placed into the hotel room drawers. When I looked in the closet, my shirts and coats had been neatly placed on hangers.

They had opened my bags and opted to put my belongings throughout the room for me.

As a topper, they had put some bedtime slippers and a robe on the bed, which I’ve seen before, but the kicker was that my book was sitting on the nightstand next to the bed. At first, I was a bit irked because I had purposely placed the book open faced on the bed so that I would not lose the spot in the book that I was last reading. When I went to get my book, I realized they had put a bookmark at that point in the book, and it was even one of those bookmarks that comes with its own little nighttime reading light.

Clever or creepy?

In my own case, I thought it was rather creepy. They had not asked me whether I wanted to have this done. Even if it was considered their standard operating procedure (SOP), it seemed to me that they should have first established that I wanted this done. They could then have placed something into my hotel records that indicated I either wanted this to be done or not, and on subsequent visits have used that “memorization” to guide their actions.

When I told others about what had happened, some of my friends thought it was a tremendous service and I was being thin skinned about it. Others agreed with me that it was rather extraordinary and actually quite odd. One even said to me that he would have started looking around to see if the room had any cameras or audio listening devices. He figured that if they went this far on my bags, who knows what other surprises they had in store. It was a good point and I admit that I was somewhat on edge the rest of the time there (you might find of interest that on later visits to this client, I opted to book at a different hotel, thus, their form of personalization had the opposite effect of what they presumably intended).

Conclusion

Deep personalization for AI self-driving cars carries with it the rather incredible possibility of leveraging the AI of the self-driving car to provide a fully personalized experience for the occupants. It is even quite conceivable that the brands of AI self-driving cars will perhaps be differentiated from each other by which ones do no personalization versus those that do, and ultimately a differentiation between those that do some amount of personalization versus those that do so deeply.

For my article about the future marketing of AI self-driving cars, see: https://aitrends.com/selfdrivingcars/marketing-self-driving-cars-new-paradigms/

To achieve personalization, deep or otherwise, the AI has to have this capability explicitly built into it. There is no magic wand that somehow allows the AI to just miraculously do personalization.

For those auto makers and tech firms that aren’t yet focusing on the personalization capability, at least they should be providing a spot to plug-in such a component, being ready to add the feature when it is built and tested. This capability could then be loaded into the AI self-driving car via the OTA and thus not necessarily need to have the AI self-driving car go to a dealer or auto shop to gain the personalization capabilities once they are ready for adoption.

The thorny topic of how to best provide the deep personalization is something that will need to be gradually figured out, gauging the public’s reaction and also potentially whether any regulations arise around the facets of it. Let’s aim to have the deep personalization be something in hot demand and that will inspire people to accept and use AI self-driving cars. We don’t want to have creepiness that causes people to be worried about a Big Brother kind of AI watching their every move.

Deep personalization for the good of mankind needs to be the mantra of AI developers for self-driving cars.

Copyright 2018 Dr. Lance Eliot

Follow Lance on twitter @LanceEliot

This content is originally posted on AI Trends.