By Ranjeet Rathore
Completely hypnotized by Russell Buckley’s Master class today. What started of as intriguing, insightful and awe inspiring lecture quickly turned to a slightly worrying prediction of the future, when Ray Kurzweil’s name was mentioned. He is a Futurologist and Google employee and the author of The Singularity Is Near. He states that with radical life extension will come radical life enhancement. Within 10 years we will have the option to spend some of our time in 3D virtual environments that appear just as real as reality, but these will not yet be made possible via direct interaction with our nervous system. 20 to 25 years from now, we will have millions of blood-cell sized devices, known as ‘nanobots’, inside our bodies fighting against diseases, improving our memory, and cognitive abilities. Now what blew me away was that in circa 2045, “the pace of change will be so astonishingly quick that we won’t be able to keep up, unless we enhance our own intelligence by merging with the intelligent machines we are creating”.
To be honest, I never really got the following concept in the lecture; Kurzweil claims to know that humans will be a hybrid of biological and non-biological intelligence that becomes increasingly dominated by its non-biological component. Not sure how to visualize it but do not fear Coup, we could survive mass redundancies when machines eventually take over.
From my reading on autonomous machines, they will certainly influence sectors of society, change life in our workplaces, homes, factories, and schools, just to name a few. There is much controversy surrounding these technologies and fears. However there is one thing autonomous/robotics machines CANNOT do and that is understand the concepts of creativity and imagination (“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”― Albert Einstein).
One way to possibly maintain the best balance between machines and humans is for creativity and cognitive ideas to be led by humans and the speed and reliability aspect from automated machines. People are much more adept than machines at tasks that involve creativity and adaptation in problem solving, which is common in our day-to-day life and work. In contrast, robots are often better at carrying out work that conforms to specific sets of rules and knowledge that can be described mathematically and scripted programming. Therefore one solution in the future is to restrict computerisation and automation to less-skilled jobs that involve repetitive, task-oriented labour. This would however cause mass unemployment in lower paid jobs therefore it is essential that the world’s governing bodies legislate the number of autonomous machines/robots with restrictions to only assist with low paid workers rather than make them extinct.
We should be under no illusion that technology can solve all the problems of human kind. The correct solution is to make people better educated at being decent competent human beings first then allow technology to be ‘servants’ not as a replacement. Whether or not robots are our servants, they will eventually become smarter than us.
Therefore the solution now is to stop the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer as it will be the rich who could do as they will with utter impunity, and the poor (the 99%) could potentially be living off the welfare, or not even live at all. If we continue with the current economic model with control concentrated in the hands of the so-called (1%), we have a model that simply has a moderately large underclass of poor with no prospect of ever being rich. Hence, we should be pushing for economic redistribution. Technology should only be there to assistant humans, not to be superior to them!