“Words are flying out like endless rain into a paper cup,
They slither while, they pass, they slip away across the universe.”
(The Beatles, 1968)
I have had to deal with changes in my work due to computer advances all my life, it has left me somewhat skeptical of the future when someone says things are going to again change dramatically and soon. Just like the digital revolution changed my work in art and graphics, artificial intelligence is on the horizon and ready to once again change the way we work and live. Artificial intelligence (AI) will (and does) make machines (computers and robots) possible to learn from experience as they do ordinary tasks, adjust to new input and build on their experiences much like a human does. It makes them smarter and better able to do things faster and faster and to find new ways to do things based on data collected along the way.
“Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my open mind,
possessing and caressing me.
Jai Guru De Va Om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world.”
So what is AI actually going do to us? Consider something that can try a thousand solutions to a problem in a moment, pick the best way to do it and then go on to the next thing, remembering all of the wrong ways and then passing the information on to a newer and faster machine. A recent survey of AI experts predicted that AI will outperform humans in all tasks in just 45 years and could take over any job in the next century. Such as? Machines will exceed humans in language translation in five years, writing high school essays in eight, driving a truck in nine years and doing most retail service jobs by 2030. Another 15 years will find AI capable of writing a novel and working as surgeons. AI and AI enabled robots are expected to replace 800 million jobs globally by 2030.
So despite what the Beatles said, something is gonna change our world and soon. I am not sure how to feel about that. I have been a science fiction fan and futurist all my life and have welcomed most technical changes even though they have constantly forced me to learn new things from the time I graduated from college. So I predict more of the same for anyone alive today. I have always been fond of the Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times.” Interesting times are definitely coming. We have a tiger by the tail and the only way for us not to be eaten is to never let go. Machines can learn, but so can we. (Below, my first real computer in 1981)