“YES!” I say, by a factor of 10!

Something that’s been swirling around my mind over the past week has been the disruptive impact of AI. I’m not talking about what’s happening now though. I’m talking about what may come.

Over the generations, technology has disrupted and improved our lives, generally for the better!

From Gutenberg’s printing press to aeroplanes to personal automobiles to personal computers to the Internet, our history is full of many things our predecessors would have seen as unimaginable. All made real through human ingenuity.

Image by Amrulqays Maarof from Pixabay

Remember life before the iPhone?

The iPhone is one of the more recent technologies that turned the market (and our lives, to some extent) on its head. Before its arrival, phones were for calls and text messaging, clunky objects with tiny “keyboards” where you’d have to tap a button several times to get to the letter you wanted. Can you imagine telling the kids this is what you had to do?!

Then the iPhone was introduced with its sleek touchscreen, an in-built camera, an app ecosystem that exploded with unimaginable apps, paving the way for ever newer technologies that simply couldn’t exist without it. And all those we take for granted today

  • A Satnav – what’s that? Waze is the go to app now.
  • Booking a taxi? Made impossibly easy with Uber!
  • Instagram, TikTok, SnapChat – and a multitude of photo and video apps made possible by smartphones.

AI: the next disruptive force

I think AI is going to be a game-changer akin to the iPhone, but 10X bigger. Most of us are aware of the clever things AI is already doing for us. Hyper-personalisation, virtual assistants (Vinton, anyone?) and chatbots, information analysis e.g. in healthcare and much more.

But I’m wondering what’s to come. What is unimaginable now that AI has the potential to solve?

Arianna Huffington writes in Time magazine that AI could help us be better humans. She talks about a hyper-personalized AI coach that could help us adopt healthier habits. If the coach has all our data – biometric, lab, medical, unique preferences e.g. food, exercise preferences, knowledge of our life and who we spend time with, knowledge of things that help us to destress – and combines all this with peer-reviewed behaviour change science – could it help improve our lives for the better? (Though I think there will be many people who would balk at the idea of an AI knowing all that detail of their life.)

How about for education? People learn in different ways. Will we replace teachers? Remember we’re talking about disruption that we can’t imagine yet. Learning methods adapted specifically for the way an individual wants to learn, with personalized tutoring to get the best out of every pupil? That’s a dream, especially for the state sector. Could AI make it real? Would teaching professionals still play a role?

Could we extend life expectancy with nanobots? This Wired article states, “As AI gains greater ability to understand human biology, it will be possible to send nanobots to address problems at the cellular level long before they would be detectable by today’s doctors…Nanobots patrolling the bloodstream could detect small plaques or structural defects at risk of creating stroke-causing clots, break up forming clots, or raise the alarm if a stroke is silently unfolding.” Seems like something from a sci-fi film!

Then there’s the idea of Mind-Computer interfaces – direct communication between the human brain and computers. How would we use that? How do we ensure technologies like that are built for the human good, and not to track every single thought we have?

AI for transportation ensuring continuous movement of traffic and with fully autonomous vehicles. I’m sure we’d all love to eliminate traffic jams!

And then there’s Virtual worlds. Will avatars be as common as the smartphone is today? Will we spend our days in a virtual world, working in a virtual world, socialising in a virtual world?

Will we have robots in our home to do our cooking or cleaning or for security?

Endless ideas. Some seem possible, others unreal.

2050 Earth Predictions

If you’re fascinated to learn what your fellow humans predict for humanity, then check out this Earth 2050 site by Kaspersky. A mixture of futurologists, scientists and ordinary people speculate what may come in 2030, 2040 and 2050. Not all suggestions are AI-related, but it’s more than likely that AI would be necessary to achieve them. City farms, zero waste consumption, robot colleagues, AI ghosts (digital replicas of the dead). There are certainly some interesting ideas!

Whatever uses we discover for AI in the next fifteen years, it’s abundantly clear that ethics must play a big part. In this research, many experts highlight positives and negatives for the progress of AI and technology. Any of the suggestions mentioned above have the potential to be disastrous for humanity if ethics and privacy are not at their heart.

What disruption do you see AI achieving that will change our lives for the better?

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