While there are a variety of technologies that are being heralded for their potential in shaping the future, AI is likely to take the crown of being the most consequential. This is because AI, unlike other technologies, is not just there enable or assist, but think and act as well. It's enabling machines to enter the realm previously dominated by humans alone -- the cognitive niche.
We can now outsource parts of our thinking and decision making, the processes we used to think were uniquely held by sophisticated animals and humans, to AI. Soon, the super-human capabilities of AI will be ubiquitous and available to every human on earth; at least, according to entrepreneur-technologist Kevin Kelly.
Founding executive editor and “Senior Maverick” of Wired Magazine, Kevin Kelly, is a man regarded by many as a technological luminary. In his book ‘The Inevitable’, he outlines a number of credible predictions that could very well be technological certainties of the near future.
One of the core technology transitions he speaks about is the cognification of everything -- the integration of AI into the objects that we interact and live with. He explains how cognification will cause widespread disruption to industry and society and compares its impact to the rise of electricity in the late 19th century.
When electricity went mainstream, the entrepreneurs and organisations of the time hurried to take the everyday objects we use and electrify them. Electricity soon became the source of life for the objects we used every day, powering household appliances to lights and factory machines -- replacing countless man-hours of labour with piped energy on demand, as well as birthing entirely new industries as well.
We are now presented with very similar opportunities, but instead of outsourcing the labour to generators, batteries and power plants, we’re now delegating some of the thinking and decision-making involved in factories, homes and offices.
Cheap sensors and networking technologies enable us to perceive the world and relay these observations to the internet. The data these objects generate can be analysed and used to train machine learning algorithms of many different designs and purposes.
These algorithms, fuelled by vast quantities of data, can empower us with insights and guide machine-action in ways that humans could never be able to replicate. And now, any device connected to the internet can benefit from this super-intelligence. The objects around us will soon be infused with AI created by the most advanced companies in existence.
Imagine a fridge that detects odours and tells you how long you have before different foods go off, or a washing machine that alters its spin cycle depending on the types of clothes you have in the wash. The data generated from these devices will not only be used to help you, but it will be shared around the world and used to improve the services for thousands of others. We will soon be downloading updates for all sorts of things - potentially even clothes!
Those of us who own smartphones are already a part of this future. We’re walking around with super-intelligence just an utterance away.
You can check out Kevin Kelly’s book 'The Inevitable' here.