Opinion | Artificial Intelligence and its impact on human evolution
Our overconfidence that we know it all and allow technological innovations to grow unfettered could be very dangerous
Humans have a tendency to make things smarter and smarter: the telephone became a smartphone, the wristwatch became a smartwatch.
Another example is where humans enabled a computer to ingest data, process it, provide an outcome, then learn from additional new data and provide an improved outcome. In layman terms, this is cognition and technologies that enable cognition are cognitive technologies such as Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Natural Language Generation, etc.
This in my view, is one of the most important change that will impact the human race. I believe this will compliment humans and not replace them. Even today we have AI complimenting humans e.g. AI assesses an X-ray and helps a doctor to arrive at better diagnosis, AI is currently used to fly planes.
An important element of cognition is data. This next phase is being driven by data, a fundamental element that determines the success of the outcomes of algorithms (Data is currently available in two forms structured and unstructured). In a very short time we have transitioned from a stage of a small group of people having access to information to essentially everyone having access to all of the world’s information courtesy the internet.
This coupled with the ever-increasing computing power at our disposal and technologies that can learn from this data are making us humans smarter.
Hence, this no longer is a “man vs machine” battle but is about “man with machines”. These new technologies are complimenting the human brain to understand data through new models, learn and generate actionable insights.
Some of this is happening now e.g. actionable marketing insights leading to new products or complex regulatory reporting. However, future is where these technologies disrupt the way humans evolve.
Let’s look at a couple of exciting developments in neurosciences and manufacturing.
Neurosciences is an area where data (both structured and unstructured) is in abundance – be it in the form of experience and acumen of doctors or research of scientists. Doctors and scientists are working together to create an algorithm embedded on a chip that can be implanted in the human brain. This chip is expected to receive images transmitted to the brain by the eyes, validate against data from the internet potentially enabling a human with sight defects to see normally or better a normal human eye.
Going a step further, research is underway to apply these systems to human biology, creating models and frameworks to analyse how genes work, how diseases work and predict what’s going to happen to a humans’ health. Basis findings, personalised medicines can be created which could proactively nip the humans’ disease in the bud and thereby prolong life.
In manufacturing, using the data around us coupled with cognitive technologies, new set of ultra-powerful, ultralight, ultra-conductive materials can now be created. With 3D printers getting into the easy reach of every one, we can all build so many new products—leading to lot of innovation around us.
These are exciting times with endless possibilities limited only by our creativity.
An obvious question at this stage is “So what will an enterprise of the future really look like?”
A future ready enterprise will be one that has digital workers (combination of Cognitive, IoT, Blockchain, etc.) rubbing shoulders with human and helping organizations become more agile, provide better products and experiences and in the end generate more money and profits.
In essence, these technologies are here to stay and already beginning to disrupt us like never before. One key challenge, there is a dark side to all of this. Our (humans) overconfidence that we know it all and allowing these technology innovations to grow unfettered (without regulations) could be very dangerous.
A quote from Ray Kurzweil sums up my article very well. “Artificial intelligence will reach human levels by around 2029. Follow that out further to, say, 2045, we will have multiplied the intelligence, the human biological machine intelligence of our civilization a billion-fold.”
Sandeep Parikh is an Intelligent Automation Partner at EY.
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