Artificial Intelligence (AI) is coming. And its not just coming for the super rich one percent of the world, you fancy pants making $48K a year, but for everyone. This may not blow your socks off at first blush. You’re probably thinking, “Hey, I don’t need a virtual girlfriend and have formed a few human relationships–so what’s AI going do for me?” It is coming to help you cook, shop, manage inventory, draft a blog post and keep your house a perfect 72 degrees.
In truth, AI is already here. It is scanning your license plate, learning to recognize faces at the airport, trading stocks and playing a lot of chess. Too much chess. Like, pretty much all it does is learn to get better at chess. AI can learn a lot of things we can’t because it’s not safe or practical for us to learn those things. For example, there are intervening states and stages within basic chemical reactions that we really don’t know what’s going on there–we know a lot of observable things about it, but the world still holds lots of mysteries. Having a computer learn from experiences and then change its behavior based on those experiences will find its way into almost every thing that you own. I know, i know… we said the internet was going to do that. Back then, you were like, why does my toaster need to log on to AOL every time I want cinnamon toast. And it turns out, we didn’t connect your heavy mixer to the internet, yet. AI gives us the reason to.
Kevin Kelly, author of What Technology Wants, talking with EconTalk host Russ Roberts harkened back to the day (say 1918) when the Sears-Roebuck catalog featured the home motor. You purchase one motor for your home and then run a variety of attachments off it. This centralized system became antiquated when homes were wired with electricity. Right now access to AI and super computing is centralized and expensive. But someday, in the not too distant future, that access will be decentralized and incorporated in existing devices and many you haven’t dreamed up yet. And while there will, without a doubt, be many a virtual girlfriend, the presence of AI in our lives will so ubiquitous that it parallel access to the electrical grid in our current world.
Twenty years ago, in 1996, Wired’s David Kline, invoked the home motor when predicting a world in the not too distant future where access to the internet would expand from the home computer (motor) and become embedded in everything and visible no where.
In the intervening moment something amazing happened. Someone created pocket sized computer that became our personal access point to the world. It pays for our 64 oz. sin taxed big gulp. It locates, reads, and edits entries in our universal public encyclopedia. It can find any song every made and play it for you. It can make songs, movies, books, games, take pictures, change channels, unlock doors, battle in a virtual world wide war, translate languages, gamble on indian cricket, sell my couches—This fucking thing can even make video phone calls to any other person on the planet. Intervening event? Nothing has disrupted and is disrupting our entire lives, industries, political systems, and lives of felines like this bad mama-jammer.
I ask it questions and it gives me smart ass answers.
Very likely, AI will first come into our lives via these magical universal pocket gizmos. The only reason we call these things phones is because we can’t think of better name to describe the cornucopia of awesomeness within: app player? pocket-puter? pda?
Kevin Kelly thinks we should be very optimistic about this, and about the future.
AI, like the internet, will be a very disruptive force. Entrenched interests will seek to mitigate and control it. Governments will fear it and be ill equipped to regulate it. Evil people will find opportunities to exploit it to do harm to others. And free and good people will use it make the world a better place than we found it.
One prediction is inescapable, its coming.