In Jules Verne’s days no one believed that vehicles heavier than air could fly. In the early 20th century, Henry Ford’s Assembly Line was considered as an inventor’s fad. In the 1970-s, few believed that palm-sized devices would be enough to communicate.
Pessimism and disbelief are characteristic of the human race, although technology is not created by masses, but by individuals who are not very concerned about public assessment and forecasts. Such individuals and teams turn fantastic plots into reality. The the modern information field congestion sometimes prevents us from understanding the amazing, revolutionary things happening in this world.
And perhaps you, dear reader, while you’re drinking your beer in a cozy pub, you’re leaving out a technical revolution that covers humanity like an ocean wave. In some provinces of China, 90% of the personnel already replaced by robots. The European Union adopted the EU 2017 resolution (“Civil Law Standards on Robotics”), while Sophia the Robot received Saudi Arabian citizenship.
All these changes are almost unnoticeable for the average reader, but one day these events can be described by popular future writers as a breakthrough.
In any case, we will have to respond to what is happening due to robotization of our life and there may be several scenarios here. Historically, two basic behavioral scenarios are familiar to humans: “If you’re interested, then explore” and “If you’re scared, then run away.”
Let’s try to make a few predictions. They’re based on our usual behavior.
Scenario 1. Everything will be better than it is
In the next 20 years, according to experts, 365 specialties will cease to exist. They will be replaced by artificial intelligence. Employment for the majority does not bring happiness, and the people’s fancies associated with employment are not always fulfilled. What will happen in the neural networks world, where the Internet is available for smart devices? The program will draw up a contract instead of a lawyer, which is already happening by the way. And the washing machine will be able to order the laundry detergent.
The human being will be able to devote all his free time to the spiritual life, he will be able to use his hidden resources and opportunities for good purposes. The wars will stop, envy will leave and peace will reign, because there will be nothing to fight for: the material wealth produced by the machines is distributed among all according to needs. An open license for penicillin has saved millions of lives, in the same way the general technology availability will make them the basis for a harmonious and peaceful life.
According to McKinsey Global group’s estimates, in the next 10 years, new technologies in the labor market will save about 50 trillion dollars. It will be possible to assign a universal basic income to everyone, regardless of their employment and wealth. Minimal wealth can be guaranteed to everyone. 3D organs and tissues printing and artificially controlled robots will solve any medical problem due to early diagnosis. An implanted sensor will send a signal about any changes in the human body, the machine will carry out the operation very quickly and accurately, and any body tissue can be replaced. A human being lifetime will increase to 120 years without any problems, which corresponds to the biological possibilities. It is not by chance that one of the wishes on Hebrew, the ancient language, sounds like “Ad me’ah v’esrim” ([may you/he/she live] “until a hundred and twenty”).
Scenario 2. For most people nothing will change
Access to products produced by intelligent machines will be only for the chosen few. Today, according to various estimates, from 80 to 85% of all world wealth is concentrated in the hands of 1% of the world’s population. Despite scientific and technical progress, the goods produced distribution may remain the same: life will change radically for a small number of people, access to the “other life” will be exclusive. The price for quality education, medicine, food, air, water and technology will be high. The future Messiah will be able to convince humanity that salvation is expensive, that there are many new threats, that earthlings soon will be challenged, that the world will not be the same anymore, that you have to endure and wait … And he uses artificially created deficit to enrich himself.
In short, according to this scenario, for the world’s population majority nothing will change.
Scenario 3. Judgment Day
My Windows periodically lives its own life: it turns on the computer in “sleep mode”, does not save documents and freezes when it is not in the mood. Today, the most powerful neural networks have no more than 800-900 thousand neurons, which can be compared with the bee intellectual capabilities. It will take several decades before the AI equals its level with the human mind. If the today technology development pace continues, then, according to Ray Kurzweil, Google’s Director of Engineering and futurist, any desktop computer in 20-25 years will be no more stupid than its owner. The negative scenario risks can be quite high.
First, the complex systems developers can make a mistake in the design intentionally or not. For the military industry, for example, failure will lead to catastrophic consequences.
Today, any software product passes several testing levels and a tester almost always finds bugs.
Secondly, artificial systems will be able to draw their own conclusions, since they will have the highest development level. Is it really implausible that a developed intellect would come to a conclusion, similar to the Skynet’s idea, that humanity is dangerous for itself, for environment and the Earth? Similar questions are repeatedly discussed by people, both philosophical communities and individuals. And, let’s say honestly, there is a great deal of truth in these thoughts.
Perhaps the human being itself is an evolving artificial organism with detected dangerous bugs in the program. Today we are able to create artificial neurons and grow biological tissues in laboratories, and soon we will be able to reproduce intelligent systems “in the image and likeness”.
However, will we be satisfied with our creations or will they also be able to break the basic commandments? By the way, in the “Battle of the Doomsday” lines, the Bible says about the “resurrection of the living and the dead.” As for the living, everything is clear, however, who does the scripture mean when it speaks of the dead? We must take into account that the Bible is very metaphorical.
In this case the logical solution for artificial intelligence would be a reboot, the biological species destruction and the evolution launch from the very beginning.
On what scenario will the story go, we may find out in the next 30-40 years. According to futurist forecasts, the future man will change up to ten specialties for his life and be good in understanding intelligent machines interfaces.
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Editor of IMD News