The future will be whatever we make of it is a often used saying in the world. No matter what you think of this saying, one thing we know for sure. Innovation will never stop. Technological developments have a fast pace. But how far will it really go?
Downloading your own thoughts and memories…
This blog originally appeared on Sogeti’s technology trendlab called ViNT – Vision Inspiration Navigating Trends
One month ago MIT Technology Review posted an article about a an ambitious plan. Ray Kurzweil plants to create a real mind. Here is an interview what Keith Kleiner held with Ray Kurzweil.
One of the most inspiring quotes in this interview is:
“The project we plan to do is focused on natural language understanding,”
For some people this will be a bit strange. Really? Maybe. Who will tell us if we can have real conversations with robots in the future… Are we really going to talk to devices of silicones?
Leading neuroscientist Miquel Nicolelis says we will never have a replicate of the human brain.
“The brain is not computable and no engineering can reproduce it,”
One of the arguments of Nicolelis is that you cannot make consciousness. He argued:
“You could have all the computer chips ever in the world and you won’t create a consciousness.”
The same goes for stock markets if you ask Nicolelis:
“You can’t predict whether the stock market will go up or down because you can’t compute it,”
The ‘creating a mind theory’ stands or falls with natural language understanding and consciousness. When Kurzweil really can create a brain, these brains can be more intelligent than our human brains. Kurzweil gives the example of reading a book. When a machine can read one page it is not valuable but, when machines can read and understand millions of pages and can use and translate these information in valuable answers it will be a technological innovation of unprecedented magnitude.
But how ambitious is the idea of Kurzweil if a neuroscientist says it will never be possible to create real minds that can understand natural language understanding and consciousness?
For Kurzweil it is the most important project ever:
“There’s no more important project than understanding Intelligence and recreating it. I do envision a fundamental approach based on everything we understand about how the human brain [works]. And there are some things we don’t yet understand so I plan to go off and explore some of my own ideas about how certain things work.”
Slowly but surely we see more smart products that helps us people to live longer and create businesses, that are more productive and efficient than ever before. When we pay notice we see smart products around us every day, just think about Siri from Apple and Watson of IBM.
We are trying to be ready for all the things that are going to happen. We are trying to regulate big data in to orderly data so we can use it and make profit of it. The same goes for ‘Internet of things’. We have to think how to connect thinks to get profit out of it and to reduce waste in all kind of areas.
But for now human consciousness is really a necessary ingredient in all these processes. So imagine that we can create natural language understanding. If objects and robots are going to think and really get consciousness, what are we doing the whole day?
But, what if…? What if the technique is really so far that we can create human consciousness and natural language understanding? A week ago Sander Duivestein wrote a blog post with the title: “Fast-food-robots are here to take your job”. A device that can produce 360 hamburgers a minute. A quote from this post:
“Our alpha machine replaces all of the hamburger line cooks in a restaurant. It does everything employees can do except better”.
This post is, if you ask me a perfect example on how the future will look like. Robots are more efficient and productive as human. We humans cannot bake 360 hamburgers a minute. Jobs are literally taken over by sensors and other techniques to replace us humans with devices. So if a device with sensors can replace the cooks in a restaurant. The next step is when artificial intelligence takes over a lot of other jobs. Some machines and techniques are already cheaper than human and that wil continue to be the case.
So if the future really be whatever we make it, we are basically working on our own dismissal.
For some people this sounds great. Finally away from the daily grind! For others it will be disappointing and they will ask themselves: “My work was a big part of my satisfaction in life, now what?” Maybe we are then going to see what real satisfaction is. You can think about things like being together with your familiy, working on projects to solve misery in the world or trying to create world peace.
The future will be whatever we make it, right?