• Tech
  • AI

How Artificial Intelligence Is Getting More Human

3 minute read

The world is on the cusp of an AI revolution. Companies around the world are already using the technology to help do everything from parse medical records to teach cars to drive themselves. At home, digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google Now, have put a conversational gloss on the burgeoning tech. In 2017, AI is likely to not only get smarter (natch) but also more humanlike. Here’s a closer look:

Amazon Echo

Amazon.com Inc. Launches Its Echo Home Assistant In The U.K.
An attendee holds an Echo device during the U.K. launch event for the Amazon.com Inc. Echo voice-controlled home assistant speaker in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016.Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The company’s Alexa software enables users to chat with its Internet-connected speaker, asking it to read news and weather reports, and even order a taxi.

Google Home


This voice-controlled speaker is powered by the Google Assistant, which helps users manage their calendar, perform Google searches or translate speech.

Sofbank Pepper

A young boy talks with the robot Pepper during a press conference on June 13, 2016 at the CHR Citadel hospital centers of LiegeJohn Thys—AFP/Getty Images

The Japanese robot, which can understand human speech, recognize body language and make gestures of its own, is being tested as a customer assistant in retail store.

Nest Cam Outdoor


The security camera’s software can distinguish between people and other subjects, like animals, to reduce false alarms.

Microsoft HoloLens

Joe Belfiore, Alex Kipman, Terry Myerson
Microsoft's Joe Belfiore, from left, Alex Kipman, and Terry Myerson playfully pose for a photo while wearing Hololens devices following an event demonstrating new features of Windows 10 at the company's headquarters on Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015Elaine Thompson—AP

Microsoft’s intelligent eyewear can see, map and understand its wearer’s physical surroundings, allowing them to view apps and games as 3-D holographs.

Anki Cozmo


This camera-equipped robotic toy can recognize and react to its owner’s face, and even say his or her name.

Asus Zenbo


This bot aims to be a more lifelike version of Echo and Home, maneuvering around the house as it answers users’ questions and expressing “emotions” via a virtual face.

iRobot Roomba 960/980


The sensors in these models enable them to “see” floors as they clean, which helps them do a more thorough job.

Tesla Model S

Investigation Continues Into Tesla Driver's Death While In Autopilot Mode
A Tesla model S sits parked in a new Tesla showroom and service center in Red Hook, Brooklyn on July 5, 2016 in New York City.Spencer Platt—Getty Images

Thanks to a combination of cameras and sensors, the electric sedan knows how to stay in a highway lane, match its speed to surrounding traffic and even park itself.

DJI Mavic Pro

Lucas Zarebinski for TIME

The foldable drone can see and avoid midflight obstacles, like trees and buildings. It can also track and follow subjects, like a downhill skier.

Boston Dynamics SpotMini

Boston Dynamics via YouTube

This robotic pup (developed for research purposes) uses sensors and cameras to move with lifelike precision. It can even handle delicate objects like wineglasses.

Aethon Tug


This bot, which is currently in use, roves hospital hallways to deliver medicine, supplies and lab specimens, giving doctors and nurses more time to focus on patient care.

Sphero BB-8


The smartphone-controlled Star Wars toy is smart enough to remember its surroundings, so it can adapt accordingly as it roves your home

Fetch Robotics

Fetch Robotics

These bots follow warehouse workers as they pick items from shelves, then help them carry inventory to reduce physical strain.

Otto Trucks

Otto Self-Driving Beer Delivery
Otto Self-Driving Beer DeliveryOtto

The Uber-owned company specializes in turning ordinary big rigs into self-driving trucks by outfitting them with hardware and software that enables them to see roads and map routes.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com