Don’t laugh, but I was counting on seeing singularity happening in my lifetime. If you’re like me, I kind of like having a device in my pocket that can figure out a lot of things for me without my having to stress over the mental gymnastics required to solve these things on my own. For instance, in the morning when I’m on a business trip, I find it quite helpful to ask my Google Assistant where the nearest Starbucks is located. Then I get my second stress relieving session by getting in my car in a strange city, and ask Google to navigate me to my business appointment. Seriously. Bring on the self-driving Uber cars.
My friends say, “Aren’t you afraid of getting ‘stupid’ and giving up all of your mental processes to a device?” Internally I say “NO!” But externally I usually lie and say, “Yeah. I’m trying to memorize all my friends’ phone numbers again in the evening…” They simply shake their heads.
For sure, there is a pervasive underlying fear from generations raised on dystopian science fiction that artificial intelligence and robots will be the undoing of humankind. Eventually, as the conventional thinking goes, artificial intelligence will become smarter than the human version and terrible things will happen as machines take over the planet. Even Gates, Hawking and Musk are on board with this thinking.
In reality, however, those of us that follow AI feel it’s much more likely it isn’t going to destroy us — or even take our jobs. In fact, it’s more likely that AI is going to help us do our jobs better. That’s worth thinking about for a moment or two. Although the idea that AI could help us work smarter is not nearly as sexy as the notion of robot overlords taking over Earth, in actuality, it is a much more realistic view of the artificial intelligence technology that’s evolving today. It’s also worthy of note, that this is as true for the line worker at a factory as it is for a salesperson or knowledge worker.
While it seems like every software engineer in Silicon Valley is trying to create the perfect algorithm to replace human workers, in most cases, they are simply trying to find ways to make you a better employee by combining the power of the computer with your creative working brains. You’ll see that in Part 2 of this report.