6 Questions That Must Be Answered To Succeed In A Machine Intelligent Future

On 23 March 2016 Google announced that it has released a whole collection of its artificial intelligence software into its cloud-based applications, thereby making them more effective and increasing the rate at which they learn and become more intelligent – due to the expanded user base who will interact with the tools.

This release comes fresh on the heels of Google’s AlphaGo computer beating the world champion of a game called Go in early March. But, computers have already beaten grand masters at chess so why the uproar? The uproar is based on the anticipation that Go would be a game that it would be impossible for a computer to play as well as a human – it is degrees more complex than chess with exponentially more possible moves at any point in the game. Beating a human was significant, but the ante was upped when the games were analysed it was found that not only did AlphaGo easily manage the complexity, but in one game the winning move was one that had never been seen before and had never been played by a human….. the computer used creativity and intuition to play the move!

In the first quarter of 2016 we have crossed thresholds that will have a direct impact on the evolution of our world of work.

There is another layer of tech-revolution in 2016 that is changing the way we interact with data, and the evolving way technology will be present in our lives and places of work in the near future.

Facebook released Occulus Rift, and Microsoft is about to launch Hololens – both onto the retail markets for distribution through your local computer store. We now have competitively priced and freely available Virtual (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) devices and accompanying software applications.

The next step in 2016 will be the releasing of enterprise relevant AR and VR applications. Mark Zuckerberg has already showcased an Occulus Rift equipped workspace where everyone was working with a headset on, but seamlessly switching interactions with each other throughout the room. A launch video from vrdesktop showcases the migration of your desktop from a screen into VR along with some of the basic functionality that is offered.

In geography when discussing the horizon there is a distinction between the Visible horizon and the Geographic horizon. The visible horizon is the furtherest point we can see in a space that has other objects and elements e.g. trees and buildings. The geographic horizon on the other hand is the furtherest point that it is possible to see based on the curvature of the earth. The geographic horizon is often hidden behind the immediate elements of the visible horizon.

The elements discussed in this article far form our visible horizon. Like a tourist in a modern mega-city may be so overwhelmed by towering skyscrapers that they loose their sense of place and direction, so too these 2016 developments may crowd out the really significant developments on our virtual geographic horizon.

SIngularity pics.001Scientists and futurists talk about a point in our future called The Singularity, an inflection point when machine intelligence surpasses human intelligence – making our intellectual capacity effectively redundant.

We have had two previous singularities in human history. The Agricultural and Industrial revolutions where our bility to hunt, and our physical strength, were made redundant. Human society and workplaces survived these singularities, and there is no reason to believe we shan’t survive the redundancy of our minds and intellect as we approach the Technology singularity, or revolution.

The technology singularity is on our geographic horizon…. as we look as far forward as it makes sense to look this probability looms.  On the other side of the horizon, just out of view is the probable conclusion of the world of work pilgrimage we are on. This is a shift into a state called trans-humanism. This is where we are able to take advantage of the exponential technology advances of the singularity to extend human life, experience, and consciousness.

If our brains are essentially bio-electrochemical organs, then all of our thoughts, memories, and cognition can be replicated or captured in technology that offers the ability to replicate those electrochemical interactions. Transhumanism is the realisation of this reality.SIngularity pics.002

Futurists and scientists anticipate The Singularity occurring around 2030 with Transhumanism following within the next decade or two.

Why should this concern us now? Isn’t this all just science fiction and mental games of people with too much time on their hands?

We need to be concerned because of the timelines. Even if they are off by ten or twenty years the implications of the route we are on, supported by 2016’s tech innovations, is that these things will probably happen within our working lives – and certainly in the working lives of our children.

The Luddites were a group of people who protested the rise of machines in the industrial era and refused to change their jobs to accommodate what machines were able to do better. We need to make sure that we are not the Luddites of the Technology era.

Ask yourself these questions about your job and workplace future:

  • What do I do today that a super-intelligent computer will be able to do tomorrow?
  • Assuming computers will do some things cheaper than me, but some things I do will be expensive to hand over to machines, what are these services I may hold?
  • If computers did a lot of the things that currently suck my time and energy, how could I use the time made available to do something new or better?

Ask yourself these questions about your children’s workplace preparation:

  • Is the work I see my children doing for school preparing them for jobs that don’t exist yet? Or, are they being taught to do things machines will do better?
  • Do I have the courage to encourage my children to consider alternative work futures?
  • How can I support my child today to develop supporting skills that will enable them to function and thrive in a world of work I can’t even imagine at this time?

Now use the answers to these questions to begin to realign your value proposition in the workplace to be useful in the transition to the geographic horizon reality.

Buy a VR or AR device, go online and use the AI tools being made available for public use…. explore your visible horizon so that you don’t get overwhelmed by the skyscrapers of the present, and loose your way to the future.

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