While most agree that artificial intelligence will have a big impact on society, not everyone is sure whether the impact will be good or bad. We are at the point where the noise level around the AI has reached its peak - many very big promises along with skepticism and direct fear. The problem is that we have extremes at both ends of the spectrum - making promises that are far greater than what we will be able to live in the near future and we paint a picture of a dystopian future that will somehow end as we know it.
I think as with any extreme perspective or point of view, the truth is in the middle.
The way I usually describe Artificial Intelligence evolution - at least in the next ten to twenty years - is to say that it will be applied in a very narrow domain and, for the most part, what we do not see as workers - we will live our lives, we going to do our job - is that we won't know that AI is there. This will be part of the landscape, part of the way we interact with technology, but not necessarily before you. The whole idea of robots as AI - our robots, getting us out of work, eliminating human needs - is part of the fantasy associated with them.
I think what we need to understand is how AI, in a very the narrow environment can help alleviate many stress factors and workloads and the tremendous burden that technology has placed on us as humans.
Frankly, technology has become very boring and the time-consuming thing for many people and also a very frustrating thing.
In many ways, AI can be useful in ways that can be surprising, such as robot vacuum cleaners. Do you see more uses like that?
That is what I see. What I see is very narrow usage, very limited in terms of AI implementation, but yes, it is very valuable
IRobot is a great example because what you do there is a device that not only can follow a set of rules on how to clean a house but can also learn so that he can understand when you move furniture and plan routes accordingly. Become a kind of collaborator.
And I think the idea of a device that can make our lives easier can be the best example of AI that we will face most. The range here is from vacuum cleaners to autonomous vehicles.
I think we will increasingly work with, be exposed to and collaborate with, devices on many scales on a very small scale - your thermostat, your vacuum cleaner - up to a very large scale.
For example, with autonomous vehicles, one of the biggest conversations today is not how we make them without drivers - we are very close there, what they call level four, on the data storage side - but how to make it more personal; personalized for what you feel on that day.
What does it mean? That is, is that the music I play? Is the lighting correct? Do I like the atmosphere, the quality of the ride? How do I create an environment that fits my needs at that time?
Very interesting to think, what is the object? Can it be used as a platform that can be used for socialization? Or can it be used for meditation, for quiet time?
We don't think about these things because the machine does everything for you.
Do you think the computer industry is doing a good job explaining its benefits to people?
Interesting question. I don't think they are doing a good job. Unfortunately, the most visible comments from the computer industry are opponents - people who are all doom and gloom, who think Artificial Intelligence can be humanity's last major discovery.
I think its throwing pall, a shadow over AI. See, the type of AI, we are talking about and we will have over the next few decades is not a common type of AI. Maybe it gets there at some point but what we have now is a very narrow AI.
What this industry does not do is explain how we can benefit from AI in very specific situations. The reality is that, unfortunately, it does not play well in the media as well as opponents and apocalyptic prognostication. They tend to get more coverage.
However, I think we can do a better job if we start educating people about what AI really is. But the situation is that most people who really know AI want to keep it for themselves. They see it as a religion and don't do a very good job of explaining it widely.
I tried to do that with the book. What you want to do is give a very practical perspective on what AI can do for us. But what I say in this book is that this is very evolutionary, very necessary, will have a big impact on our lives but this is not apocalyptic.
Artificial Intelligence is more than just a "tool" that enhances, for example, the manufacturing process. This is more than the next step in compliance. This is more than a system for making predictions that facilitate action. This may be even more than a bully of "knowledge work", more generally.
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