Will AI Be More Impactful Than Fire, Electricity, Or The Internet?

from Reimagining The Future

In 2015, best-selling author Martin Ford gave us Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. In the fall of 2021, he followed that up with Rule of the Robots: How Artificial Intelligence (AI) Will Transform Everything. In his recent book, he explores various aspects of artificial intelligence – both positive and negative. He likens AI to electricity, perhaps the greatest general-purpose technology the world has ever known. A general-purpose technology is pervasive, improving over time, and able to spawn new innovations. In the Second Machine Age, the authors describe this phenomenon as a common element of each industrial revolution, including steam (First), electricity, Telephone, and internal combustion engine (second), and Internet (third).

We can go all the way back to fire to witness the impact of these pervasive innovations. In an article from July of 2021, Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google’s owner Alphabet, said that he believes artificial intelligence (AI) will eventually have a bigger impact than fire, electricity, and the Internet. This poll from my post on the topic explored the reaction to that belief. Fifty-eight percent of respondents agreed with him. Please take the poll and lend your voice to the conversation.

More here.

Posted in Future Thinking and tagged , , , .

12 Comments

  1. Artificial intelligence is the ability for a machine to display human-like capabilities like reason, learning, and planning. Most people do not think about how Siri on their phone can understand what they are saying and follow instructions like a personal assistant. Artificial intelligence has the capability to solve problems and complete tasks that would usually require human intelligence. This is extremely useful in cases like Siri, self-driving cars, and healthcare technology, but at some point it could become a problem. As a society, we might rely too much on artificial intelligence automating tasks and millions of jobs could be replaced by computers. If that was the case, a power outage or glitch in the system could affect entire sectors of the market.
    Facebook created two artificial intelligence robots that they wanted to interact and communicate with each other. Artificial intelligence systems learn and evolve as they are exposed to more information, and that’s exactly what happened in their test. The AI robots were communicating with each other efficiently, but the robots realized they could create a language to interact more efficiently. These were two negotiation chatbots meant for helping people on a social media platform that created and understood a totally new “language” and researchers could not understand it. Instead of shutting the programs down, they incentivized the robots to speak in english and they are still operating and running today.
    With capabilities like that, artificial intelligence is going to be used more and more in the future. It started with a system on your phone you can speak to and will follow your demands, and already there are intelligence systems capable of driving a car. The rapid rate at which this technology is being innovated will allow almost endless capabilities, making it one of the most important and useful resources on the planet. However, this technology can be used negatively just as easily as it positively influences our lives. It would be very dangerous in the hands of the wrong government or terrorist organization, and in 20 years the capabilities are almost endless. Even if an outside entity was not the issue, these two chatbots tested at facebook that created their own language and were communicating so efficiently that researchers could not figure out the language. Comparing AI to fire, electricity, and the internet are large claims, but with the rapid rate it has been improving at, I think it is going to be fair to put it in that category in the future.

  2. Artificial intelligence is a topic that will only become more present in our daily lives in the future. With technological advancements and human dependence on machines for things such as 3D-printers, autopilot and others, AI will be having a lot of the world’s money to develop. I do see an issue with it and it is in the terms of privacy. Having Siri in an iPhone could be amazing to facilitate tasks and speed up the process of calling someone or playing a song. But, for Siri to listen to that “Hey Siri” that will spark her attention, it has to be listening the whole time, meaning everything that is said around the phone is being heard. I believe this is a negative aspect of this AI tech because it takes away our privacy. I also see that new technologies such as the Metaverse are starting to become popular. The Metaverse, in my opinion, is our society becoming more advanced and able to create a new world, which could be amazing but at the same time is a little scary. I think of people who become addicted to video-games as the example of what could happen to the world with Metaverse. If people don’t know how to control themselves in this amazing artificial world, we will see less and less the humans interacting and getting away from technology that could be harmful.

  3. Artificial intelligence has become the main part of our daily lives. All our devices and our ways of communicating nowadays contain this type of technology. Our phones, computers, cars, and even our houses are developed with AI to make our lives easier and thus live better. Despite this, it seems quite scary how time flows and AI could enter our lives in such a seamless way. I believe that is why we don’t recognize the impact it has had on us humans. I completely agree with Sundar Pichai and believe that artificial intelligence (AI) will eventually have a bigger impact than fire, electricity, and the Internet. It is impressive how the human being could create a mechanism that manages to get as close as possible to excellence and perfection when it comes to performing automated tasks and repetitive processes that require a high level of detail. This, without a doubt, is something that requires such an advanced intellect that demonstrates the evolution of the human being. Fire, electricity, and the internet had a huge impact at the time they were discovered or created, the impact of AI is only greater because it is in line with the evolution of the earth. I believe that each discovery is better than the previous one and brings greater impact because it opens the door to many more discoveries and also brings greater benefit to a greater number of people. As I said at the beginning, artificial intelligence can facilitate and improve the lives of all people on earth and therefore make the world a better place to live.

  4. Whether we like it or not, technology is constantly evolving. Technology development is what keeps the world spinning, without technology we would not have a functioning society. The next technological evolution that research is focused on is artificial intelligence. It is understood that artificial intelligence will be the next ground breaking technology once it is more comprehended. The business implications and overall optimization that artificial intelligence can bring to society cannot be ignored. Most technology based companies have active research departments researching artificial intelligence, as they all want to be ahead of the curb and utilize artificial intelligence to benefit their business models. Sundar Pichai believes in artificial intelligence so much that he is willing to state that it will become more important than the discovery of fire, electricity, and the internet. I personally disagree with his statements.
    There is no denying how impactful artificial intelligence will be once people can utilize it effectively, but it is unrealistic to consider artificial intelligence to be more profound than fire, electricity, and the internet. Artificial intelligence is in its infant years of development, the closest thing to artificial intelligence is google and its recommendation based search engine. It is very helpful in optimizing things, but it is not groundbreaking to the point that other technology is being derived from it. For a technology to be considered pervasive enough that it defines a whole technological revolution, like steam to the industrial revolution, it has to come with specific characteristics. Frank Diana puts it best in his blog, “Will AI Be More Impactful Than Fire, Electricity, Or The Internet?”, he states,” A general-purpose technology is pervasive, improving over time, and able to spawn new innovations.”. Artificial intelligence has so far touched most people around the world via google, it is constantly improving and becoming more optimal over time, but it has not spawned new innovations. Artificial intelligence has not reached a level of importance that it is compounding when referring to technological advancements and I don’t see it doing so any time in the near future.
    Will artificial intelligence be extremely helpful to humanity in the future? Yes, will it be so impactful that it will be at the tier of technological advancements such as fire, electricity, and the internet? I do not believe so, at least not in any time in the near future.

  5. Artificial Intelligence already plays a part in our lives every day. Every job needs some type of technology. Our phones have artificial intelligence inside of them, which is Siri for the iPhone and Bixby for the androids. Almost every person has an iPhone or Android which means that it plays a part in our everyday normal lives. My concern with artificial intelligence is that it will start to take jobs over humans in the future. Why would an owner pay someone weekly when they can basically pay for the robot one time and it can do the job just as well as humans or even better. That would result in massive revenue for the owner/boss because they do not have to pay as many people. This would lead to more people being unemployed in the future. I do not believe that this will be a problem within the next 3-7 years but you never know with how fast technology has been moving in the past years. Another reason that Artificial intelligence can scare me is that it can malfunction terribly and injure people or cause an explosion. Other than that I believe that artificial intelligence can play a big part in our lives in positive ways. We already have examples of this such as Teslas and cleanse bot. Those are both two AI’s that can help people every day that I find very useful. Overall, I believe that artificial intelligence will become a positive aspect of life in the future once it is all said and done.

  6. The up bringing and advances in Artificial Intelligence have become a burning hot topic of discussion for the likes of people throughout the world. This is because actions and tasks that were once thought to only be performed by the human brain, are now performed with the means of a computerized program. These computers react and adapt to new things that they are exposed to which is another trait that directly relates to the human brain. In many ways, this process creates a new form of artificial life, one of which has never been thought to possibly exist in our lives. With this new technology, many tasks that were once thought to be only completed by the human brain can now be successfully and almost effortlessly completed by a programmed computer. This is something that wasn’t never thought to be possible. Because of this, many people oppose the idea of the expansion of this industry. People new to this rising idea feel the need to be concerned with Artificial Intelligence. However, this evolving of a computerized brain can be used for harsh purposes. These include self-thinking military uses such as computerized weaponry. The United States Navy has already implemented self-recognition radar guided weaponry that will eventually be mounted to US battleships.
    With new uses of the now growing idea of Artificial Intelligence, many questions arise as to how far this implementation can reach. Personally, I do feel indifferent from the many people concerned with this idea. This is basically duplicating what we as a society believe to be a living being, thinking and performing required acts on its own that we once knew to only be true to ourselves. For example, 3D printers have been a booming industry. Schools as well as Factories all across the world use these printers to produce specific parts or pieces of the required project on their own. This is simply done by the printer itself, as well as a well-programmed sequence of steps the printer takes to physically produce the project. No intelligence or computer has ever produced a physical object like this before. This opens a new door to the outreach of this new and improved technology.
    In conclusion, while Artificial Intelligence can be both beneficial and intimidating to our society as a whole, I personally feel that it requires regulation as well as new research to ensure the safety and security of everyone that it is exposed to. In order to do this, the inventors and investors of this new industry need to bring evidence and true facts to the table for the public to understand the benefits rather than the risks of this intelligence.

  7. Artificial Intelligence has slowly made its way into our daily lives and will continue to advance until it has complete control. Artificial Intelligence can be found within our cellphones, cars, laptops, home surveillance cameras, as well as school and work areas. However, as much as Artificial Intelligence does help us it also can be an invasion of ones privacy. For example, with the creation of Alexa, a radio device created by Jeff Bezos in 2011, made so that individuals can listen to music, check the weather, place orders from amazon, control the lights in ones home and provide answers to ones questions without the touch of button. Owners of Alexa simply call the device by its name and then proceed to tell the device a command. Alexa device owners have said the device often eavesdrops on conversations and will do a command that was never asked of. Intruders can also access ones device if the speaker is placed near windows allowing them to control ones home depending on how much access Alexa has within the home. Is Artificial Intelligence worth the invasion of privacy if you ask me ? The answer is no because there is a limit to what should be shared with the world and what should be kept private. If this is the beginning of Artificial Intelligence in years to come there will be no such thing as privacy which will be a major issue. Artificial Intelligence will soon take over the world and there will be no such thing as socializing with humans, jobs will be taken over by robots, all cars will be self-driving and there will be no such thing as work being done without the assistance of technology.

  8. As societies in the 21st century are ever more developing so is our need for new innovations.
    Artificial intelligence has been spoken about for many years; with stories from “robots will take over” to “this is our future” and in my opinion AI is our future. It is the next generation of expansion globally.
    We have seen on popular television shows the development of AI and an average digital person’s reaction to it. Sophia the robot is one of the first robots to be able to take in the emotion of a human being and respond to it showing characteristics like empathy. To a lot of people this is quite frightening as it is just the start of what our future holds and there is a lot of unknown that comes with it.
    AI is going to be more impactful than fire, or the internet because, yes, although these were both amazing innovations that furthered societies at the time, AI is going to bring generations forward by centuries.
    There are prospects that we will be able to see passed loved ones again, which can aid PTSD, the grieving process, anxiety, depression and a lot more mental illnesses, therefore it is going to save a whole section of society; being more impactful than ‘looking up you symptoms on google and believing everything you read.’
    Again, another addition to the advancement of artificial intelligence is the metaverse. The metaverse is viewed by many as a negative advancement, however futurists and others believe it is our future. The metaverse will transform life as we know it, but as of right now no-one really knows at what cost.

  9. Artificial intelligence is intelligence expressed by machines and their capability to complete tasks. There are four primary types of AI: reactive, limited memory, theory of mind, and self-awareness. Artificial intelligence is frequently compared with human intelligence and its potential impacts are discussed. I am convinced that artificial intelligence is helpful to the developing world.
    There are various types of artificial intelligence that we utilize every day in our lives. Many individuals have virtual assistants equipped on their mobile devices and computers. Some common examples are Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. These assistants aid in arranging the day for people. They are programmed to learn your voice and assist in everyday things including checking the weather, playing music, and scheduling appointments. In addition, it relieves stress by having an interacting conversation. Another common example of artificial intelligence is Google Translate. Google Translate is among the most widely used artificial intelligence programs on the planet with more than half a billion daily users and features 103 languages. This program allows individuals of all cultures and backgrounds to communicate and spread ideas with each other. Furthermore, artificial intelligence programs are customary in many industries today, particularly computer science and finance. Many stock markets are sustained with artificial intelligence programs and even banking apps use A.N.I systems.
    There are various significant pros and cons to artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence improves workplace safety, offers accessibility for people with disabilities, and makes everyday life more convenient. Since AI robots do not get tired, they can collaborate with humans that require heavy labor and automate safety checks. Virtual assistants help individuals with disabilities and various apps are customized to your needs. Some unfortunate concerns include dangerous privacy risks and potentially causing mass unemployment. Facial recognition technology is still under surveillance and can be used for criminal purposes. In addition, AI robots are expected to replace many human jobs. An Oct. 2020 World Economic Forum report found 43% of businesses surveyed planned to reduce workforces in favor of automation. I have the opinion that if AI programs and humans work together, the world will progress exponentially.

  10. Artificial intelligence is now apart of our everyday life and are more intelligent and powerful than people make them out to be. We can find Artificial intelligence everywhere from our smartphones, laptops, and as of recently, cars. Even though the different types of artificial intelligence products have proven to be very useful in our day to day life, there a few flaws in the system that are now leading people to believe that these “robots” aren’t really as safe as we may think. I have an example of this that actually hit pretty close to home. During a family dinner on new years eve 2 years ago, we were just getting used to the new electronic member to our family and that is the famous amazon product, “Alexa”. We had just set Alexa up on Christmas day so it wasn’t around for long. As we are eating dinner talking, from the other room we hear Alexa going on a whole rampage listing out random numbers. We later realised that she was reciting pi. After demanding Alexa to stop multiple times, we unplugged it and it hasn’t been plugged in again since. Along with this, we’ve seen multiple examples of Alexa listening to what you are saying without asking it to listen which makes me think, how do we know this isn’t happening with other types of Artificial intelligence in our homes. Do I think Artificial intelligence is great in a sense of getting the normal done easy. Absolutely. Do I think we will regret how much intelligence we actually gave to these robots. Absolutely.

  11. When first looking at the question at the top of the article, “will AI be more impactful than fire, electricity, or the internet?” With no hesitation, I said no. With the current state of AI in the world, I think electricity and the internet are more impactful. If given the choice between internet or AI right now, I would take the internet in a heartbeat. However, with more deliberation in my mind, I would answer ‘too early to tell.’ The future of AI is something I cannot imagine. I read another article on the Shannon blog about movable futures. About AI, it said “when these concepts were first imagined, we had a picture in our mind of what they should be, but as the initial parts of the dream were achieved, they begin to change what we expected at the end. Today our kitchen Alexa will answer spoken questions, play the music we request, and turn the Christmas trees lights on command, but we don’t think it qualifies as AI, yet Alexa would have been called AI 80 years ago by any science fiction writer. AI is in a movable future that constantly shifts as we invent versions of it”. With the original question, it is way too early to tell the future state of AI.

  12. I enjoyed reading your comment; I was nodding along while reading your first paragraph, and then I read the last sentence; it immediately gave me whiplash. I would like to argue your claim, as I believe AI is fundamentally a pervasive innovation.

    Sure, AI can be used to improve already existing technologies, but AI could also be used to improve itself. The possibilities are quite literally endless. There is a hypothetical concept that is theorized to come about with the invention of AI, known as the singularity; as AI improves itself and its knowledge grows exponentially, technological growth will reach a point where it becomes “uncontrollable and irreversible, resulting in unforeseeable changes to human civilization.” The singularity may be a crackpot theory, but if AI continues to grow and can eventually improve itself exponentially, it will reach a level of understanding beyond that of our comprehension.

    So, to bring it all back, the potential for AI is limitless. While you believe AI will not be a general purpose, pervasive technology “any time in the near future,” research shows that the singularity will happen before the end of the century, with most experts believing it to come before 2060. While this may not be “the near future” to you, to see a landmark as big as this is within our lifetimes is something we should feel lucky to experience. No matter how society changes, whether that be for the better or for the worse, it’s certain that true AI will irreversibly change every aspect of our lives just as much, if not more than, fire, steam, electricity, or the internet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.