all AI wants for X'mas

All AI Want for Christmas

The lead-up to Christmas is a beautiful time of year (well, dependent on your tolerance for festive jingles). It’s critical to the magic that festive feelings can still be stirred no matter how trying the times; but what’s equally fascinating is how the experiences themselves evolve with high-tech innovations, their malleable nature ensuring that technological traditions have permeated into nearly every household. With the exponentially increasing presence of AI, Christmas is set to evolve once more.     

Tired Technophobes

One of the most critical aspects comes in the form of present buying. It appears as an inherent skill to so many, deftly negotiating the aisles to find a gift that achieves that golden combination of surprising, suitable, and a steal for its price. Determining gifts for children is even harder, finding the balance of engaging and educational; VIA Pixetto is able to walk that tightrope, allowing for those with innate curiosity for cutting-edge technology to be entertained with a variety of games and interactive functions while secretly building knowledge of futuristic fundamentals like coding and machine learning!

The difficulty of gift-buying, however, pales in comparison to the eternal struggle that takes place once presents are unwrapped and they have to be assembled and powered up. In times gone by, it would be the sight of a parent bemusedly trying to set up the Scalextric set, track all over the floor, having to rearrange the living room to be close enough to a plug; from the turn of the century, it’s often the struggle to decipher the instructions, the younger generation having to explain how to wirelessly connect something to the WiFi, much to the chagrin of their luddite elders. Nowadays, it’s all about how to program the AI sensor so it can detect whether people are wearing a mask  or track an object across a room. For the person who loves to indulge themselves with new projects, showing off the features of their new gadgets, it’s brilliant. For technophobic parents, there’s a guarantee of a little pre-turkey frustration.

Opportunities for the Obsessives

For those looking to conveniently miss those calls to help with dinner and instead are dreaming of sitting by a snow-framed frosted window immersed within a book, there are a plethora of tech-based literature journeys to embark upon. You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: How Artificial Intelligence Works and Why It’s Making the World a Weirder Place is a fantastic new book delving into the modern state of AI, serving as fabulous introductory literature to those want to ignite any semblance of curiosity regarding these innovations. Those with more established knowledge may enjoy something like Neuromancer, a classic of the sci-fi genre and what many consider the birth of modern Cyberpunk (and the basis from which the soon-to-be-released Cyberpunk 2077 was born). Finally, for those with a more business-centric interest in the technology industry, Blockchain Chicken Farm is an enlightening window into the future applications of AI, how the technology will help to automate across the fundamentals of working life.

As a quick aside, anyone looking to broaden their horizons within the literature world, check out our General Manager Epan Wu’s literary blog – Epan’s book club – that offers an array of insightful reviews and hidden-gem recommendations!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Of course, it wouldn’t truly be Christmas without the universal presence of Santa Claus. Suspicious children can have their Santa-skepticism squashed via the facial recognition features of AI sensors; with some simple programming, the technology is able to use provided images to identify St. Nick (or any family member wearing the iconic outfit) and provided definitive proof of his existence, helping keep the magic of the season alive!  For those without a full red coat and fake beard to hand, Ask Santa is a fantastic alternative: an AI version of Father Christmas which people can talk to via the computer’s microphone and will actually interact with the children, taking down any present requests and ensuring their spot on the nice list.    

As is typical of many households on Christmas (and a personal highlight) we finish on games. Providing new games for the whole family has been difficult since the Wii died out and although the yearly showing of Charades is typically excellent, with Nan leading the enthusiasm, generally any other attempts are often found lacking. AI can help provide a number of engaging amusements and has a great record in games suitable for all ages, from the younger generation to those who might be a bit older and not as active. Best of all, you get the self-satisfaction of knowing you built the game yourself: so all those hours fiddling with the technology while ignoring calls to help with Christmas dinner will be worth it!

Written by Stan Buckley, PR, Social Media Marketing and Marketing Communications intern at VIA and a Business Studies graduate from Lancaster University.

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