Our increasingly smart machines are now being applied to activities that not long ago were viewed as the exclusive domain of humans. Cognitive computing, robotics, self-driving cars and AI in general are some of the hottest topics in academia and business these days.
What should we expect from this new generation of AI machines and applications? Are they basically the next generation of sophisticated tools enhancing our human capabilities, as was previously the case with electricity, cars, airplanes, computers and the Internet? Or are they radically different from our previous tools because they embody something as fundamentally human as intelligence?
Kevin Kelly, - as am I, - is firmly in the AI-as-a-tool camp, as evident by a recent article in Wired, - The Three Breakthroughs That Have Finally Unleashed AI on the World. Kelly co-founded Wired in 1993, where he served as executive editor until 1999 and continues his association as Editor-At-Large. He has many other interests as well as being a prolific writer of books and articles.
According to Kelly, the AI future that’s coming into view is nothing like the “potentially homicidal” HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey or “a Singularitan rapture of superintelligence.” The AI he foresees is more like a kind of “cheap, reliable, industrial-grade digital smartness running behind everything, and almost invisible except when it blinks off. This common utility will serve you as much IQ as you want but no more than you need. Like all utilities, AI will be supremely boring, even as it transforms the Internet, the global economy, and civilization.”