New tech becoming ‘unplugged’ could alienate people from society, expert warns

Technology companies are racing to develop artificial intelligence that can run “unplugged” from the internet, providing users with a more personalized and private experience.

During this year’s Intel Innovation summit, company CEO Pat Gelsinger unveiled new “AI PCs” that will increase the use of AI on the devices themselves and not depend on the cloud, according to a report from Spectrum.

The company is not alone in its quest to optimize its devices to run artificial intelligence “at the edge,” unplugged from the internet and run on local hardware. Apple and Qualcomm have also been involved in the race, the report noted, leading a drive toward AI meant to act more as a personalized assistant for the end user.

Most AI tools today rely heavily on data centers that require a stable internet connection, at times overburdening servers attempting to keep up with the growing demand. But the new technology would rely less on the internet and the cloud and more on learning the needs of the person using it.

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Jon Schweppe, the policy director of American Principles Project, told Fox News Digital that such innovations have the “potential to fundamentally change the way we live our lives,” but warned such developments also risk some people forming “deep, yet unrequited bonds with their virtual assistants that further alienate them from the rest of society.”

“AI can never be a true replacement for social interaction. An AI wife cannot be a true replacement for a real wife,” Schweppe said. “In a world where we already have problems with people rejecting their societal responsibilities and being unwilling or unable to form families, AI ‘assistants’ will just further exacerbate these issues.”

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Despite that, companies are steaming ahead with the development of the technology, reversing a decades-long trend in tech to move almost everything to the cloud.

This new personalized approach to AI could speed its ability to become useful for some people, argued Pioneer Development Group Chief Analytics Officer Christopher Alexander, who noted today’s AI relies on a more “generalized” approach.

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“The vast majority of AI today uses massive data sets for analysis to make generalized recommendations to an individual,” Alexander told Fox News Digital. “This AI approach provides the power of analysis specifically to the individual’s surroundings. It will be exciting to see how this plays out over time.”

Phil Siegel, the founder of the Center for Advanced Preparedness and Threat Response Simulation (CAPTRS), told Fox News Digital AI’s reach will continue to grow with time and become increasingly useful in more applications.

“To be clear, most AI is already unplugged. From companies using custom AI apps to AI embedded in SaaS software, those would be considered unplugged. I think most companies will be developing Small Language Models to find patterns in their data to fuel marketing, sales and supply chain applications,” Siegel said. 

“If we’re talking the chatbots this will be big, maybe bigger than the (large language models). We will continue to have the LLMs. We also already have edgepoint chat with Siri, Alexa, MSFT Copilot and Google Asst. These will only get better and probably will appear in all kinds of home, auto and even travel-type applications,” Siegel added. 

“There may even be white label products for companies like AirBnb which might have one for each geography for its customers or ask one of the four home chat companies to do it for them. Each car company will extend its tech to have these endpoint AI apps. I’m bullish on this.” 

While there is considerable excitement for the potential of the new developments, experts have also stressed the limitations of so-called “unplugged” AI. That could lead to the development of hybrid platforms that can work both on the cloud or on local devices.

“The main difference is that ‘unplugged’ AI will be localized to an offline system and reliant on the data and resources it’s already provided or gathered. An online AI can theoretically access anything and everything and is therefore limited only by its processing power,” Samuel Mangold-Lenett, a staff editor at The Federalist, told Fox News Digital. 

“An ‘unplugged’ AI is limited by its processing power and a finite amount of information.”

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