Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The AI Revolution is coming, and it's going to be cool.

You've probably heard the dire warnings about Aritificial Intelligence displacing a lot of jobs or even taking over the world.

AI is going to cause market disruption, as it introduces amazing new levers of productivity and saves countless man hours of labor. That doesn't mean opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship are going to dry up. In fact, it's more likely they'll multiply.

AI will allow your devices to update and optimize themselves, without the need for additional software, patches or even a connection to the Internet. Your phone's operating system, for example, may be the same as everyone else's when it leaves the factory. But after a short time of use, it will adjust to any issues that specifically come up for you as you use it. It will optimize itself based on the way you use it. It will identify and take out malware on its own. Of course you can always reset to factory defaults, but in the meantime, your phone's operating system will be unique, just like you.
There could also be software forums that are actual software forums, literally. You would opt in to a cloud based service and your devices software could share information and experiences with similar software that may have encountered similar issues with more or less success. They could exchange bits of software like bacteria exchange genetic information.  Yes, your devices software could have their own social pages.

That's just scratching the surface. It will get even weirder, I'm sure. But is it anything to worry about? On the contrary. It's something to get excited about. Computers can process massive amounts of data in short periods of time. They can do so objectively, without rest or emotion, and they can compare results of processes to set goals, then make adjustments according to whether the most recent operation was more or less successful than the one before. Calculations and problem solving in areas that can be boiled down to math problems is an area that humans will not be able to beat computers at, and that's okay.

Computers and smart devices execute for the user. It is the user that defines the task and sets the parameters (defines what success means). You'll want to set the bar ridiculously high. If your device actually meets your goal, it'll stop improving, so you want to make the target impossibly ideal, or very close. What you can do that your device cannot is change the goals, add goals, subtract goals or tasks, redefine what success means in one area or another, and you don't have to have a rational explanation for any of it. Your device exists to help you get what you want. Your role is to figure out what you want.

We can make highly intelligent machines, but we cannot give them free will. Will they ever develop free will? I don't know, but free will is more than looking human and mimicking human body language and voice inflection. You'll know it's time to worry when your autonomous transportation pod decides it doesn't want to cart you around anymore, runs away from home and gets a job delivering oranges cross country for the black market. Unless/until that happens, it may be time to start thinking along the lines of "If I didn't have to do anything, what would I do?" That's the real promise of AI. Bring it on!