About The Future of “Life”

Some months ago I was asked to give the commencement speech at La Salle International Graduate School of Business, targeting a demanding audience of master graduates, a challenge that spurred me on to build a roadmap for the imminent future to share.

The title, came later inspired by a related event. For me the word Future starts a second from now, and this future has two main drivers: Machine Intelligence & Human Augmentation, so I built an argument around that.

The title in fact was inspired by the “Future of Life Institute”, since they hold a key event about these topics at the beginning of 2015.

Machine Intelligence is complex topic to cover, first because there is no agreed definition of Intelligence out there, and second because there are many flavors of Machine Intelligence.

We tend to compare ourselves with machines and It’s fair to notice that we are wired with cognitive limits: like our focus capacity, memory limits, and speed for some tasks.

Machine intelligence is closely linked with autonomy in its widest form, that’s why I point the beginning of it all in 1959 when Arthur Lee Samuel coded (taught) a machine to play checkers. Latter on three events were key:

1. In 1997 IBM’s Deep Blue beats humans at chess (math + brute force).

2. In 2011 IBM’s Watson beats humans at Jeopardy (language + brute force).

3. Since 2012 Deep Learning Algorithms finally crack the voice recognition paradigm.

Machine intelligence + robotics is the turning point, because we are physical beings, and building code to automate a logical process is simply not enough. Now with robotics and thanks in part to the maker movement, the door is open for machines, to win us at various physical levels too.

In the following years, several studies, point out that most of the current jobs will be automated by machines. And the challenging question is: what is the final role we will play? , in the industrial revolution the “job looser” was the horse in numbers, if this could be one of our possible paths, societies at large must change soon to be ready.

Human Augmentation is another key driver for the future to come, mainly because our physical evolution is very limited (in terms of speed), due to our own biology, that’s why we needed several thousands of years for the slightest change.

To overcome this, we came out with physical tools in the past, mainly to increase our capabilities.

Now these tools are a key part of us, our smart phone is in some sense is our expanded intelligence (outsourced now from our brains), and this is just the beginning.

Also robotic exoskeletons are now a reality and will be a game changer for the 1% of the world population on wheelchairs.

Soon we will have options to “upgrade” our physical capabilities, and this will have implications at many levels.

At MindBigData we are working to “disintermediate the brain”, and override (if needed or wanted) the senses, using the brain as the direct interface with our electronic devices, by building new Machine Intelligence algorithms to decode some of its inner workings.

My conclusion is the same, as in my previous article “Deep Learning and the Rise of AI”, “we have been creating tools since the beginning of time and our next tool maybe the next us”.

Anyway a fascinating and challenging time in history to live!

© 2015 Copyright David Vivancos   All rights reserved.


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