Ayanna Howard keynote
Real Estate News

AI expert: Artificial intelligence is 'taking over' — and that's OK 

Roboticist Ayanna Howard spoke about the present and future of AI across industries at the T3 Technology Summit.

October 31, 2022
3 minutes

Key points:

  • In 10-20 years, all industries will be influenced by artificial intelligence.
  • At its best, AI is a partner, helping make the complex simple and providing answers to critical questions.
  • The future of AI is vast "if we really push all the things we've been working on in terms of real artificial intelligence."

Imagine a world where people describe their dream home — the layout, the finishes, what they see when they look out the kitchen window — and then a picture appears, and "Oh my gosh, that's exactly what I want!"

That's our world. That's now. That's the power of artificial intelligence, explained Dr. Ayanna Howard, one of the world's leading experts on robotics and the intersection of AI and humanity.

Dr. Ayanna Howard, roboticist, entrepreneur and dean of The Ohio State University College of Engineering.

And the real estate industry is poised to capitalize on what AI can do, at scale.

"Is AI taking over?" Howard asked the crowd at the inaugural T3 Technology Summit on October 31 in Newport Beach, California. Her answer: "Yes." In 10-20 years, "there won't be an industry that isn't affected by AI."

And that's a good thing, she said.

AI is made from algorithms — processes or sets of rules to be followed. Algorithms take massive amounts of data and transform it into insights, actions, answers or predictions.

At its best, AI is a partner, answering questions we speak out loud to Siri or Alexa. Modeling software like Autodesk Revit allows builders to show and sell homes that have not yet been built. Chatbots help buyers understand what they can afford. Algorithms can predict where house prices are heading.

Of course, AI's not perfect. But people inherently trust it to be at least neutral, Howard said. It's the humans we need to watch out for. Google has built a tool that creates any image that can be described, like that dream home. But they're not releasing it to the public yet because of the potential for unintended consequences, such as people using it to create imagery that is "fake, hateful, explicit or harmful."

In study after study, people say they are willing to embrace AI because it makes life better. They acknowledge a range of risks, but embrace the upside. So does Howard.

"I believe we can train AI to be better than us," she said.

We've certainly helped it become a better version of itself. In the '90s, when Howard was working on the Mars rover for NASA, the "intelligent rovers" figured out things like "rock - don't go" and "crater - don't go" and "flat - go fast."

"It's pretty basic," Howard said. "But this allowed us as developers and roboticists to say look, we can actually send something to another planet. And it can actually function autonomously in these very simple roles. But what can we do if we really push all the things we've been working on in terms of real artificial intelligence, and really think about it?"

In real estate, 3D and virtual tour technology is just the beginning. Truly immersive experiences and highly predictive pricing and forecasting models are within reach. These sorts of AI-enabled advancements can move the industry into a new era, benefiting industry leaders, agents and consumers looking for a better way to shop and transact. 

"I didn't think [AI] could be used to help me go shopping, but here we are," said Howard.

Note: T3 Sixty founder Stefan Swanepoel also founded Real Estate News.

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