By Nick Thiong’o
Human history is marked by distinct innovations. And, it is not just about humble spectacles which we wear to enhance sight, for instance. Other monumental epochs including the Agricultural Revolution, Industrial Revolution, and now, the Intelligence Age, continue to create change in the most unexpected ways and their success is palpable.
Today, we find ourselves surrounded by Artificial Intelligence (AI) that goes far beyond spectacles. Humanoid robotics and avatars are being created with the ability to mimic our language, habits, and even emotions. It is clear that the incredible capabilities of AI, particularly in video production through tools like Synthesia, which can effortlessly build lifelike avatars, will transform both individuals and businesses.
Yet, as we delve deeper into this brave new world, we find ourselves contemplating the emergence of a new species. Could it be that Google’s AI chatbox, Lamdar, has attained consciousness and perhaps even the ability to experience feelings and sensations?
While such questions are seemingly fantastical, they underscore the transformative potential of the Intelligence Age – In this era, individuals like Imran Chaudhri, co-founder of Humane, are working towards a post-smartphone world. Humane, a secretive startup, has raised $100 million to develop an “integrated device and cloud services platform” for AI, hinting at the transformative potential of their work.
One remarkable example of AI’s impact on our lives is the creation of a digital bridge between a man’s brain and his spinal column, enabling him to walk again. Gert-Jan Oskam, paralyzed from the waist down for 12 years due to a bicycle accident, now has two implants – a spinal cord neurostimulator and a brain-computer interface. AI decodes his thoughts to establish leg movements, showcasing the profound implications of tech in healthcare.
However, what this rapid advancement tells us is that AI power is on the hands of a few companies. This concentration and explosion leads to a dictatorship-like scenario, and the unleashing of cheap, autonomous robots that could ignite global conflicts.
AI is critical and can create opportunity in more ways than one. As we witness the merging of man and machine, we enter a futuristic era where the boundaries between the synthetic robotic realm and the human nervous system blur. Medics, for example, drive the AI growth as they leverage it big time, thereby elevate medicine to entirely new dimensions.
Hugh Herr, a renowned American rock climber, engineer, and biophysicist, is at the heart of AI. Despite losing both legs due to frostbite, Herr designed life-changing bionic limbs, revolutionizing the field of biomechatronics. His work, including active leg exoskeletons and powered ankle-foot prostheses, has earned him the title “Leader of the Bionic Age.”
In 2015, Herr’s research group at MIT pioneered an interface that allows amputees to control synthetic limbs with their “head” (through thought), feat that was once likened to science fiction.
This tech era promises to alter the very fabric of our existence, reshaping society, and even challenging the constructs of religion and democracy. As we embark on this journey, we must tread carefully, considering not only the profound advancements but also the profound questions that lie ahead.
It means we must confront the sobering reality articulated by scholar Yuval Noah Harari who warns that AI represents a “seismic shift” in human history. To Harari, AI is a tool that can “making decisions” and generate ideas independently.
Unlike atomic bombs, which lacked the ability to decide who to bomb, AI possesses the power of autonomous decision-making. It is the first tool in human history that can make choices by itself, and this is a fundamental departure from all that has come before.
Moreover, AI is unique in its capacity to create new ideas. It is capable of generating concepts and solutions beyond the confines of human cognition. This intrinsic ability to generate novel ideas sets AI apart from any previous invention in history.
As we stand at the threshold of the Intelligence Age, it is evident that AI holds the power to shape our future in unprecedented ways. It is imperative that we remain vigilant, addressing issues of AI safety and equitable access to ensure that the promise of this era benefits all of humanity.
Intelligence Age may herald a new dawn of human potential, but we must navigate it with wisdom, foresight, and a commitment to the betterment of society. As we venture deeper into the space, the tapestry of our existence evolves. We find ourselves at a crossroads, grappling with profound questions about consciousness, ethics, and the equitable distribution of power.
The emergence of a new era presents profound challenges. It demands not only technological prowess but also a commitment to the betterment of society. AI’s potential is vast, but its responsible stewardship isparamount.