AI and human existence: The ABCs of ADLs

Smartwatch

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Explained: How even the simplest of day-to-day activities are deeply influenced by ML & AI. Will it become a life-changer?


On any given day, a regular human being does several activities which are performed ritually and without fail. From cleaning to eating and drinking and finding our way across our environments, human life involves many activities that are deemed Activity of Daily Living, or ADL. We have performed these activities in the past without any technological help or advice. Throughout human history, man has invented many a tool to improve the execution of these ADLs, and our current age is no different. Technologies such as 'Machine Learning' and 'Artificial Intelligence' have enabled many advancements to our lifestyle. Some assist us, however there a few that we need to be cautious about.

Let us stride through these ADLs one by one by following a simple activity timeline of a person's one-day life as we discover how Machine Learning is shaping human life.

Morning - 5 AM to 10 AM

A day for us typically starts with several activities. Brushing, eating, washing, etc., are a few morning routines that we follow in our day-to-day life. 

A day begins by waking up from sleep. Nowadays smart devices such as wrist-fit bands, and smartwatches tell us more about our sleep. These devices take leverage of AI and Machine Learning to provide accurate results with improvement. They help us to improve our sleep quality and behavior which in turn improves our health. 

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After waking up, we essentially brush our teeth to maintain hygiene and dental wellness. Even in this activity with the help of novel smart wrist devices and smart toothbrushes which use AI and Machine Learning, we study and measure our hand movements, direction, speed, etc., that improve the quality of our brushing which in turns keep our oral health in check. An example of such an application is Oral B Genius X.

Nowadays, washing our hands regularly to maintain hygiene and immunity is very important especially given the COVID scenario around the globe. Many kinds of research have been made to take advantage of the technological development to help in monitoring hand hygiene and give a quality assessment to an individual. Many privatized hospitals have tied up with several industries to implement a smart solution for providing hand hygiene quality assessment. The doctors from these hospitals take advantage of it daily to improve their hygiene and their patients' as well. An example of such an application is The MedSense Clear system by the MIT Medlab Alumni.

Physical health and maintaining shape have become very underrated due to the new awareness around mental health and its importance. Nevertheless, staying in shape is a very important aspect of people's lives as it indirectly constitutes mental well-being. Diet planning and eating healthy is something that must be taken care of. With the help of smart mobile and computer applications, we nowadays plan our diet efficiently. With the rise of 'Machine Learning', this system is scrutinized, and further research is being conducted to find solutions for problems such as people's preferences in their eating habits to provide an even better solution. 

Mid-Day Activities - 10 AM to 3 PM

Mid-day activities constitute a very wide range of tasks. We regularly use map applications to commute to a certain location. These applications use AI and Machine Learning extensively to provide the best route possible by predicting traffic and other obstacles well before we commute. These applications suggest the best means of transport and the best route to take, they even track and alert us on breakdown of transport services. Examples of such applications are Google Maps, Apple Maps, etc.

Many people work in closed environments either in the office or at home. We are always sedentary, and desk bound. It becomes inevitable to take breaks and go for a short walk and stretch ourselves. And, equally important is to keep ourselves hydrated. With the help of smart devices, we can track the amount of time that we sit continuously. They help us to take a break or even correct our posture if required. Some also help us stay hydrated and suggest improvements based on the environment and atmosphere quality around us. Examples of such devices are Apple Watch, Mi Band, etc.

Evening Activities - 3 PM to 8 PM

Evenings are when we generally try to relax after work and indulge in leisure activities that differs from individual to individual. These activities involve a lot of AI and Machine Learning as it takes advantage of our data right from our preferences to our recent practices. These technology-driven applications and systems need to be handled with utmost caution. We all use the e-commerce facility extensively as it helps us to reduce the time and energy to buy a product as it enables us to shop from wherever we are. This has huge benefits. But we sometimes are ignorant and innocent about the implications that might come. Few applications read our technology usage colossally as they keep track of us more than we know. They improve their recommendation system using this data with the help of AI and Machine Learning and suggest products well before we want to search. If we are not using an official or a recognized application, we are at risk of a privacy breach with the history of our shopping data being stolen or hacked.

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Social media applications have invaded our lives. We connect via different platforms to share, exchange ideas and also to relax. However, some of these applications hold sensitive data about us. These applications have plenty of recommendation systems that are constantly updated to feed posts enjoyable to us. But are we compromising on the sensitive data like our name, address, phone number, etc., as well as our preferences that reveal who we are while doing so? An imminent danger to watch out for here is 'data leakage'. Some of these applications never encode or cipher our passwords. Other activities during the evening include working out, which a few people prefer in the morning too. With the prevailing COVID situation, we have restricted using the gym frequently. Many applications and systems have been created to assist us to work from home. With the help of AI and Machine Learning, they streamline our workout routine.

End Day Activities - 8 PM to 5 AM

End-day activities help us unwind as we call it a day. We perform certain activities as mentioned previously like eating, brushing, washing, etc. Some smart devices assist us by providing an alarm to indicate our sleeping time. This heavily depends upon technology as it tracks our previous sleep history to let us know in what areas we need to improve. These applications help us learn from our sleep pattern, like how much time we spent in deep sleep and so on. This system heavily uses AI and other sensors to read our breathing, heartbeat and measures those accurately to provide insights. Many wristwatches and fit bands provide this feature.  

As we get to the end of it, these applications help us save energy and time as well as lead an enriching life.Having said that, we must also be cautious regarding their influence on us. Take precautions and double-check the application for privacy policies. Always use trusted applications, instead of randomly selecting one that might store unwanted cookies to store sensitive data which might lead to an imminent threat.  So, what's your ADL?

About the author:Gourav is a Software Engineer and a Budding ML Engineer, passionate to design and develop experiences to make people's lives simpler yet protected and secure. He's also an avid sport enthusiast and a crazy Formula 1 fan. Can be reached to have an intriguing conversation about sports and tech or to just rant about old school ways.
 

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