A recurring debate happens every time a new AI tool gets introduced. Does AI engineering create more room for inclusivity or exclusivity?
This time it is about a new tool developed with the intention to empower visually impaired communities.
AI is a Double-Edged Sword:
Some people consider AI a threat to their jobs, safety, ethics, and creativity. However, AI also presents new opportunities and solutions, particularly for those with disabilities. AI can help break down barriers to accessibility, making it easier for people with disabilities to access information and services.
New Horizons of Independence:
To make the world more accessible to over 250 million blind and low-vision people, Be My Eyes launched in 2015. Since then, the application has enlisted 6.3 million sighted volunteers from 150 countries and 180 languages.
The partnership between Be My Eyes and OpenAI‘s Chat GPT-4 is significant. Together, they have developed a new AI-powered tool called Virtual Volunteer™, which has the potential to expand new horizons of independence for blind and visually-impaired users. Virtual Volunteer™ provides users with the same level of context and comprehension as a human volunteer. It supports them when navigating their physical environments. AI provides access to innovative features that can enhance accessibility and improve the user experience. For example, Virtual Volunteer™ includes an image-to-text generator that can translate text, give directions, and read menus and magazines. Additionally, AI can assist with writing ALT text for images in the photo library.
AI for Social Good:
AI has made several breakthroughs in enhancing functionalities for inclusivity and people with disabilities. A field of research called AI for Social Good is dedicated to using AI to tackle important social, environmental, and health issues. In March 2022, AI-powered smart glasses called Envision Glasses were introduced. These glasses can translate and interpret everyday visuals into speech for visually impaired people.
AI and Human Intervention Go Hand in Hand:
AI-powered tools, when developed with OpenAI‘s principles of safe and responsible AI in mind, can be life-changing for people with disabilities
Will AI be able to replicate the human empathy and emotional intelligence that distinguishes volunteering work?
It’s still doubtful if AI can replace the human brain that ensures reliable fact-checking and safety for crucial decisions, similar to corporate jobs.
While it is true that AI can speed up systematic and repetitive tasks, the question remains whether it can completely replace the human intelligence gained through years of experience.