According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Opinions and Lifestyle Survey conducted in May 2023 in the UK, 50% of adults reported using Artificial Intelligence (AI) daily. Even though 45% of respondents only use AI "a little" in their day-to-day lives, it is still a substantial piece of the population that uses it regularly. Another ONS survey from May 2023 showed that 19% of adult respondents in the UK had heard of AI but couldn't explain what it is while another 9% had never heard of AI at all. These statistics are still surprising for how prevalent AI has become lately, especially with the public launch of ChatGPT. Most people have multiple aspects of their lives influenced by AI and don't even realize it.
AI that's in the business of keeping people secure is something that's not normally thought about as AI, but there are plenty of industries that use AI to keep people safe both physically and online.
AI is doing its best to safeguard anyone with a bank account, and, according to the Global Findex Database of 2021, 76% of the global population have at least one. Well-trained AI fraud detection algorithms can analyze all of your transactions and make deductions about whether new charges are fraudulent. More intelligent algorithms have also made it easier for some frequent travelers; some banking websites or mobile apps don't even have the option to submit upcoming travel dates as they simply don't need them anymore (though personal experiences may vary).
Google and Yahoo are constantly updating their spam filters to keep inboxes clear of scammers trying to trick you into unknowingly handing over your personal details. Harmful spam emails take many forms, from persuading you that you won a prize in a drawing to making you panic that you missed a delivery to announcing that your malware protection has expired and you need to renew it now (I looked no further than my own spam folder for these topics). Currently, the most effective way to filter out these potentially dangerous emails (especially to those less comfortable with technology) is AI-powered filters. In October of 2023, Google claimed to "stop more than 99.9% of spam, phishing and malware from reaching inboxes and block nearly 15 billion unwanted emails every day."
AI (or at least a subset) is also protecting our device security. Apple has used deep learning in their face detection since iOS 10, and it's only evolved further since. Face ID uses mathematical representations of your face, and that has enabled them to ensure that the probability of a random person being able to unlock your device is 1 in 1,000,000. Face ID has also evolved to the point that it can work accurately while you're wearing a mask - a huge quality of life update during COVID-19.
AI also has a prominent place in online entertainment, from streaming shows and movies to scrolling on social media to googling whether you should put on videos for your cat.
Nowadays, people tend to find their new favorite show or movie from algorithm suggestions based on what they've watched previously. Netflix, who clarifies that their recommendation algorithms are driven by Machine Learning (ML), uses data like fully-watched TV series, how many times a movie is rewatched, which genres are most browsed, direct feedback in the form of thumbs up or down, and more to suggest a wide range of possible new favorites to viewers.
Doomscrolling is a recent social media trend - it's the act of scrolling for an extended period of time through social media, and, more specifically, reading or watching negative content. This is something that nearly the entire world encountered during COVID-19; Oxford Languages included "doomscrolling" in their 2020 Word of the Year report, which contained several words and phrases that reflected 2020 rather than the usual single word. But what does that have to do with AI? Well, there's a reason doomscrolling is so addictive. Social media apps use AI-based algorithms to tailor your "For You" or "Recommended" feed specifically for you. These algorithms track nearly everything you do: how many videos with a certain hashtag you watched, if you instantly scrolled away from a post, if you only watched half a video, the whole video, or a number of times, whether you liked, commented, or shared, and so much more. It's easy to waste hours on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and even LinkedIn because AI is carefully cultivating your feed to be the most relevant and entertaining possible.
Google uses AI in an impressive number of applications in Google Ads. Not only does AI make things easier for those creating the ads, but AI and ML also tailor ads to your searches and preferences, much like the social media algorithms above. But Google goes a little further. You used to be able to see all the assumptions Google made about you in the format below (not my picture or data).
Now it's a little more general, which is a little less fun but also makes people feel more at ease. Those who have more than one account can see the difference in ad experiences. For instance, in my ad center for my work account, I get ads based around travel booking services, business, QA platforms, business productivity software, and more. However, for my personal account, I have fiber crafts, online grocery shopping, tea, kitchen and dining, cats, books and literature, video games, and lots more since I have more diversity in Google searches on my account. I googled “cat videos” once to see if my cat would like them. She didn’t, but now I get them recommended on my YouTube all the time.
Seeing the difference in the ad personalization really drives home (for me, at least) these spookily accurate personas Google has built for the two halves of my life. These AI algorithms help us find what we're looking for as well as help the companies sell their products.
There are almost too many little, miscellaneous uses of AI in daily life to count, so let's look at it in a different format.
AI is making everyday life smoother and easier, often without people realizing it (I learned of at least three new ways AI is impacting my life just from researching this, and I work for an AI company!). As the use of AI and GenAI becomes more ingrained in daily life, it's hard to ignore the effect it has on everyone, whether they're aware they're using it or not.