Artificial Intelligence is not only going to change the world. It already has changed the world. There’s a lot of difference between those two statements.
To talk about this, first, we need to agree on what Artificial Intelligence really is. As with the pretty much every single topic that has ever existed, there are plenty of different definitions on what AI really is.
You can consider AI to be a human-like robot that operates and thinks as a human, but you will be wrong. You can consider AI to be a computer with feelings, and you will, once again, be wrong.
So, lets start this article by defining AI as a hardware + software combination (or just a software) that takes the input data, processes it in some way that no human intelligence could ever be capable of doing, and then returns the output to the user. Now, you might argue with me that this definition does not represent AI and that it only represents what every single computer program is made for, but I think that you will be wrong.
We currently do not have any all-purpose AI solution. What this means is that every algorithm and every robot is built with the specific purpose in mind. Take it and put it in some other environment, the one that the programmers and/or engineers haven’t thought of while they were building it, and you got yourself a pretty useless piece of software (+ hardware in some cases).
To get back to the subject, I strongly think that AI is not something that is going to change the future. I think that it already has. It is only going to increase the way it changes us and the world around us following the Moore’s law.
Moore’s law is the observation that the power of the computer doubles approximately every two years.
Now there are some different definitions of how long does it take to the computer power to double. Some say that this process lasts only a year, some say that lasts 18 months, and others say that it lasts for two years. The point is that the computer power is increasing constantly at a very fast rate.
So, how is the world around us changed with the AI?
First of all, we all got smartphones in our pockets. I know, you’re probably tired of hearing this, but todays low-end smartphones are more powerful than the supercomputers we had as recently as 20 years ago, and we can’t even properly compare the physical size of them (one of them being as big as a room and the other being small enough to fit in a pocket). So, lets take Siri for an example. She is powerful, not powerful enough as a “regular” personal assistant (and by regular I mean human), but she is getting better and better. Her biggest flaw definitely is the speech recognition, which is quite a challenging topic in AI. It is a fine example of AI that runs from your phone.
Next example: Google Search. Long time ago, Google stopped offering all around search results and started memorizing what we searched for in the past and started using it to predict the topics we’re interested in searching. As an example, as you might already know, I have hosted my blog for almost six months using my Wordpress.com domain. After that, I have decided to ditch it and to start using my current domain together with Jekyll blogging platform. After I’ve started searching for some Jekyll tweaks and themes, I kept finding Wordpress tweaks as my top results. This type of AI is not easily recognizable, the search results vary only a little, but it is happening and you are using AI every time you use Google’s search provider. Try looking up your name from two different devices (both running different Google accounts) and see it for yourself.
Next stop: Google Glass and Google’s self-driving vehicles. After that: that annoying Facebook algorithm that “predicts” people you should add to your friends based on your common interests, your location and with the interaction with your mutual friends. Face recognition? Of course, AI (and it is getting pretty good with it). YouTube video suggestions? Again, AI. Evernote tags? AI. Facebook timeline? AI. Cleverbot? (A pretty stupid use of) AI. Stock markets? We now have AI platforms that advises us which stocks should we buy and which stocks should we sell.
You see, everything we do online is starting to be enhanced by AI. That line is not going to decrease over time, it is only going to increase at an exponential rate (as seen in the picture I showed as an example below).
So, what could we expect in the near future?
Ray Kurzweil is probably the biggest futurist alive. He has received 20 honorary doctorates and he has been awarded by three U.S. presidents. He published seven books, five of which have been national bestsellers. He already predicted some of our achievements and when they’re going to happen. He predicted that computers will be able to beat chess masters in (you guessed it) chess, that we will have WiFi broadly implemented across the world, that there will be self-driving vehicles reaching consumerism (OK, we still have a few years ahead of this, but does anyone really doubt it?), that we will find a way to project images right before our eyes… The list goes on and on. Following Moore’s law, he predicted even more amazing things in the next 25 years.
He predicts that we will be able to fight most of the known diseases by using nanobots. He predicts that the virtual reality is going to feel 100% real by the 2030s. He says that we will reach a point of singularity probably around 2029. He predicts that the line between the reality and the virtual reality is going to blur out.
Singularity is the hypothesis that accelerating progress in technologies will cause a runaway effect wherein artificial intelligence will exceed human intellectual capacity and control, thus radically changing civilization in an event called the singularity.
Will AI destoy us?
This is probably the most misleading statement in the field of AI. And it is pretty simple to figure out why. We have tons of movies with scenarios in which we created something so powerful that it considered us just as a threat and destroyed us. Take Transcendence (2014) as an example (although it doesn’t blindly follow that pattern). But I don’t think that anyone who knows something about AI agrees with it. You see, for the machine to become intelligent, first we need to program it. And I don’t think that anyone with the capacity of creating the real AI is going to try to dominate the world in any way. Our biggest bet probably relies on some huge company like IBM or Google, and I don’t think that they’re going to make such an awful mistake. Most of the AI scientissts and futurists agree with me on that. After all, the goal of AI is not to kill every potential buyer out there. The goal of creating AI is to create something that will exceed human intelligence and help us to find some answers to the questions we’re struggling with for a very long time.