Anatomy of an AI mobile: the pros and cons

An AI device would force you to give up access to your data in return for a personalised service. Photo: AFP

An AI device would force you to give up access to your data in return for a personalised service. Photo: AFP

Published Apr 2, 2024


When OpenAI unleashed ChatGPT other tech companies felt pressured to reveal their AI powers.

But many were not ready to share their AI capabilities. As a result, many have claimed AI powers where they don’t exist… Hardware and smartphone manufacturers, however, have been impressive about their AI integrations.

The hardware and smartphone market has brought forward products with the AI tag, which raises the question about the make up and anatomy of an AI device.

At the foundation of it all there’s data… The device needs to have data about behaviours in general and in addition to that, data about its primary user. Data about behaviours in general will assist the device to recognise certain actions and act as expected. As for data by its user – this is what would make an AI device a personal device.

Imagine a device that has data about your health, finances, food and clothing preferences. Such a device would be in a better position to warn you about allergies based on two forms of data: health and food. It’s a device that can become your official financial planner and coach by accessing your financial data.

Clearly, an AI device would force you to give up access to your data in return for a personalised service. This brings me to another important part of an AI device, its hardware features. In addition to data, an AI device will come packed with powerful chips that process data and all this critical information.

Smartphones have always had chips, but an AI device will need to come packed with chips that enable the device to process data without handing it over to the cloud.

The more we use AI devices, there will be a greater need to safeguard personal data. Countries will have to demand that its citizens’ data is processed without crossing borders .

This will place a heavy burden on device-manufacturers to design products that avoid data violations.

While taking care of all these elements, an AI device will have to solve some of our challenges. Some of these challenges include language barriers, multitasking and other basic things we need to function and live with.

An AI device that can be our personal assistant in communicating with others is what would make it a device that adds to our intelligence in a way that does not threaten us.

I’ve seen a couple of AI devices and one that stands out so far is developed by Samsung, the GalaxyAI. One of the most impressive features is it’s ability to enable a call that translates a language of the caller to the language of the receiver. This is one great example of using AI to assist humans.

My other favourite functionality on the Galaxy is its ability to transcribe notes from my interviews. After recording, I’m able to get written notes from the device. For now all of these tools are not perfect, but I foresee that in the future they will become very useful in our lives.

The devices that we have currently have some AI capability. Be prepared to see some form of AI in your devices. I do see gaps, and I can’t wait for a truly AI smartphone.

Wesley Diphoko has been working at the intersection of media and technology. He has been part of FastCompany and is a tech analyst on SABC radio stations.

Follow him on X: via @WesleyDiphoko