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Talking Cars: The Role of Conversational AI in Shaping the Future of Automobilesby@chinechnduka
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Talking Cars: The Role of Conversational AI in Shaping the Future of Automobiles

by Chinecherem NdukaMarch 21st, 2023
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While self-driving cars remain a futuristic concept, ChatGPT will soon accompany drivers during their commutes through stimulating conversations. General Motors, a leading automobile manufacturer, recently announced plans to incorporate one of the world’s most powerful conversational AI technology, ChatGPT in their cars. The new infotainment system would integrate ChatGPT in a manner that makes it possible to act as an in-car virtual assistant, enabling drivers to communicate with their vehicles. 
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While self-driving cars remain a futuristic concept, ChatGPT will soon accompany drivers during their commutes through stimulating conversations. General Motors, a leading automobile manufacturer, recently announced plans to incorporate one of the world’s most powerful conversational AI technology, ChatGPT in their cars. The new infotainment system would integrate ChatGPT in a manner that makes it possible to act as an in-car virtual assistant, enabling drivers to communicate with their vehicles.


“The chatbot could be used to access information on how to use vehicle features normally found in an owner's manual, program functions such as a garage door code, or integrate schedules from a calendar,”


GM Vice President Scott Miller said in an interview. Miller confidently stated that “ChatGPT will be in everything.” So far, they are the first automobile manufacturer to use ChatGPT in their vehicles. Though Alexa and Google Assistant have already found their way into cars, their comparatively limited capabilities pale in comparison to the multifarious abilities of ChatGPT, which has emerged as a dominant force in various other domains, and it probably won’t be long until we start seeing other early adopters.


Of greater significance is the fact that while this development seems to be a nudge towards a more pleasurable future, it also raises questions of how 'conversational AI in cars' will affect not only the automotive industry but also society at large.


Balancing Convenience and Protection


The global in-car infotainment industry, according to Allied Market Research, was valued at $21,410 million in 2020 and is expected to reach $37,530.4 million by 2028. The fast-paced development and emphasis on the in-car experience are a reflection of customer demands for comfort, convenience, and leisure.


However, one of the critical issues surrounding conversational AI technology is privacy and security. While it may seem like a convenient feature, allowing drivers to interact with their cars can also be a significant privacy and security risk. Conversational AI technology relies on natural language processing, which means that the system has to analyze and understand the driver's speech. This analysis may involve the collection of personal data that could be vulnerable to cyber-attacks or data breaches.


As conversational AI in cars becomes more prevalent, it is important for the automotive industry to balance the convenience and pleasure of in-car infotainment with the protection of personal information and cybersecurity measures. Data security expert and technology attorney, Justin Daniels speaking to HackerNoon said,


“Cars today have so many sensors, microphones, and even cameras that all collect so much data. It goes far beyond just the GPS system. CarPlay, Bluetooth, and other systems know when you make or receive a call, as well as who you're talking to, and sometimes they can even tell when and how you pushed the pedals.”


Now that ChatGPT is coming to cars, doesn’t that even make it more alarming? Justin believes that for every good use of technology, there are dozens of malicious uses. For instance, he said,


“Data collected from the OnStar infotainment system in Alex Murdaugh’s car provided important information in his murder trial, and that’s great. But what if an ex-spouse, disgruntled employee, or stalker is tracking you by accessing information from your car?”


While people say “just turn off the location services on your phone,” he continued, "what good is that if all the technology in your car is tracking you?" This raises important questions about not only privacy but also the potential misuse of personal data collected by vehicles. According to Justin,


“Security can't be an afterthought; it has to be a design feature. Our lives are on the line. People assume these big companies like Tesla are better at cyber and privacy than we think they are. They're dead wrong.”


As technology continues to advance, the importance of prioritizing security in design will only increase.


The Paradoxical Duality of Progress: Benefits and Setbacks


While the use of conversational AI in automobiles is a significant step forward in the quest for more intelligent and user-friendly driving experiences, the use of the technology presents a paradoxical duality of progress, offering both benefits and setbacks. Speaking to Semafor, GM’s vice president highlighted some of the benefits that could come with this technology. He contends that ChatGPT in automobiles could advance technology beyond the basic voice commands present in today's vehicles. It might assist a driver with changing a tire, running diagnostics, or even scheduling an appointment.


Experts say that this is not without setbacks. Inaccuracy is one of the primary setbacks with using conversational AI in Automobiles, according to Gulroz Singh, Sr. Safety Architect at NXP Semiconductor. In response to HackerNoon, he said


“GPT-3 is found to have factual accuracy of around 85% which is not considered safe enough according to any state-of-the-art automotive safety standard. If drivers rely on conversational AI to make real-time decisions on the road using conversational AI which does not produce factually correct output 100% of the time, it could have serious implications for the drivers as well as the pedestrians.”


Following his thoughts on LLMs' occasional inaccuracies, Gulroz also expressed concerns about the accountability in these systems. He believes that a question worth answering is,


“Who will be responsible if the AI provides inaccurate information? Is it the driver, the vehicle manufacturer, the infotainment system provider, or the software engineer who worked on the training of the AI model?“


Gulroz referenced a concept called 'Moral crumple zone', which was introduced by Madeleine Clare Elish in a 2016 paper to describe how an action may be mistakenly attributed to a human actor who had little influence over the actions of an automated or autonomous system. This a classic example of avoiding culpability in the event that the AI system does something that, in his opinion, harms the driver or any other actor on the road.


Other concerns expressed by experts include the possible over-reliance on AI-leading to complacency and reduced situational awareness-and potential driver distraction which may have adverse outcomes. For starters, the CEO of Vulse - AI Platform, Rob Illidge, remarked


“An overexcited AI system may distract drivers making things less safe, especially when it doesn't understand what we're saying, leading to more frustrated arguments with our virtual friends.”


Similar to any technology, errors or malfunctions could also impact the vehicle's safe operation or the accuracy of the AI's responses.


Disruptive Impacts in other Sectors


The ramifications of conversational AIs like ChatGPT extends beyond the auto industry. In reality, the technology has the potential to disrupt and innovate numerous other sectors. According to Deloitte Insights, conversational AI is one of the AI fields with the most patent applications in the past year. It is anticipated that the market for conversational AI, which includes chatbots and intelligent virtual assistants, would increase at a CAGR of 22% between 2020 and 2025, reaching roughly US$14 billion.


ChatGPT has already revolutionized search engine markets, but that’s not all. It seems to be coming for every industry, and many companies are rushing to become early adopters in the industry they represent. Microsoft already said it was going to embed OpenA’sI ChatGPT features into all of its products, a plan it has already started to implement.


Customer service is another industry where ChatGPT is making its presence felt. The technology that underpins ChatGPT is already utilized by a number of businesses, including Meta, Canva, and Shopify, in their customer care chatbots, according to a Forbes report. Using GPT-3.5, the massive language model that serves as the foundation of ChatGPT, Ada, a Toronto-based company that automates around 4.5 billion customer care conversations, has partnered with OpenAI to increase the usefulness of customer service chatbots, the report noted. Ada's chatbots are accessible on apps like WeChat, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger, and are supported by $200 million from investors.


There are numerous additional use cases in various different industries.


On February 21, 2023, Bain & Company, a leading management consulting firm, revealed its collaboration with OpenAI to incorporate technologies such as ChatGPT into its management systems, research, and processes. The partnership has been underway for the past year. Additionally, the company announced that Coca-Cola would become the first major consumer product company to utilize the system.


In the e-commerce industry, ChatGPT is also becoming a capable tool. Major players in this sector, such as Shopify, a popular consumer-oriented e-commerce platform, and Instacart, a food delivery and pickup service, have recently integrated ChatGPT AI as a shopping assistant. This enables the AI to assist customers in searching for products and offer personalized recommendations based on their preferences.


The relevance of ChatGPT can be seen in the social media and messaging app industries as well. Cloud-based software provider, Salesforce recently declared that it would add ChatGPT to Slack, its workplace messaging app, in order to use AI to deliver conversation summaries, research tools, and writing support. On February 27, 2023, Snapchat also rolled out a new AI feature called My AI on Snapchat+. My AI is a new chatbot running the latest version of OpenAI's GPT technology, allowing its millions of subscribers access to the AI, right on the app.


The Future Implications of Conversational AI on the Automobile Industry


The race for chatbot technology became fiercer after Microsoft announced earlier this year its intention to invest multi-billion dollars in ChatGPT-owner OpenAI, with a stated aim to add the chatbot's technology into all its products. Google quickly responded with its own chatbot, Bard.


The recently unveiled voice-activated chatbot by General Motors is purportedly using Microsoft's Azure cloud service, demonstrating Microsoft's ambition to rule the chatbot business. With Google's application of virtual assistant in automobiles only going as far as the basic Google Assistant at the moment, this new breakthrough could keep Microsoft one step ahead of Google in the chatbot sector.


But while Microsoft and Google appear to be in more direct competition for conversational AI, other major tech companies like Amazon have been stepping up their efforts to integrate voice chat technology into cars. According to a TechCrunch report, Voice recognition is expected to be an essential feature in future autonomous vehicles, which will see drivers ultimately surrendering the ability to control the car mechanically. Experts predict that conversational AI-powered automobiles may become increasingly common in the future.


“We can expect to see cars evolving into more comprehensive personal assistants, with AI systems handling everything from navigation and entertainment to vehicle diagnostics and remote control. In the future, conversational AI may also be integrated with other emerging automobile technologies like self-driving capabilities, creating a seamless and advanced driving experience.”


Ilampooranan Padmanabhan, Solution Delivery Manager at Nets Group, mentioned to HackerNoon. This novel idea also opens up a market with enormous growth potential and business opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs alike. Adopting this technology can give automakers a competitive edge, according to Gulroz Singh, it is another business model that automakers are attempting to exploit. He clarified his statement further by saying,


“Firstly, vehicle manufacturers are going to sell this as an add-on subscription in their top models to make a profit off their high-end buyers. Secondly, the acquisition of copious amounts of customer data from constant listening can be potentially used for ads business which can be lucrative. And lastly, the analysis of customer conversation data helps in understanding customer behavior and psyche leading to faster lead generation in the sales process.”


Conversational technology, he continued, could also evolve into other IoT devices such as smartwatches, smartphones, and smart keys which would become conversational connections and endpoints to vehicles.