2038: The future computed



Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing our world, and like a genie that has been released from a bottle, there is no way to turn it back.

Now comes a book titled “The Future Computed: AI and its role in society” published by Microsoft that predicts the following trends:

Organizations and countries that will fare best in the AI race shall be the early adopters, since AI would be useful wherever intelligence is needed. New jobs and economic progress would favor those who embrace this new technology, not those who resist it.

AI will help improve daily life for humans in many ways and help solve big society problems. But it is also important to remain critical when examining the issues that it may bring, such as the need for strong ethical principles, importance of training for new skills, reforms in the labor market and the evolution of laws.

Technology companies, private and public organizations need to come together with a shared sense of responsibility to fully realize AI’s benefits and to minimize the negative outcomes. AI must be democratized and its building blocks, such as computer vision and knowledge recognition, should be made available to all so they can create their own AI-based solutions.

In his foreword, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said: “Compared with the world just 20 years ago, we take a lot of things for granted that used to be the stuff of science fiction. Clearly much can change in just two decades.”

He conjured up the following scenario: “In 2038, digital devices will help us do more with one of our most precious commodities: time. You might take your first meeting from home by slipping on a HoloLens, or other devices, where you’ll meet and interact with your colleagues and clients around a virtual boardroom powered by mixed reality. Your presentation and remarks will be translated automatically into each participant’s native language, which they will hear through an earpiece or phone. A digital assistant like Cortana will then automatically prepare a summary of the meeting with tasks assigned to the participants and reminders placed on their schedules based on the conversation that took place and the decisions the participants made.

“A driverless vehicle will take you to your first meeting while you finalize a presentation on the car’s digital hub. Cortana will summarize research and data pulled from newly published articles and reports, creating infographics with the new information for you to review and accept. Based on your instructions, she’ll automatically reply to routine emails and reroute those that can be handled by others, which she will request with a due date based on the project timeline. In fact, some of this is already happening today, but two decades from now everyone will take these kinds of capabilities for granted.”

Before his death, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and his colleagues at Cambridge University recommended that mankind move cautiously in the development of AI, especially in the area of autonomous weapon systems.

He said the creation of a superintelligence with a will of its own is “either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity.” He foresaw that with the tools of this new technological revolution, “we will be able to undo some of the damage done to the natural world by the last one – industrialization.”

Hawking hoped that Earth people would aim to finally eradicate disease and poverty, concluding that “every aspect of our lives will be transformed; success in creating AI could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization.”

The author is CFO of the Asian Center for Legal Excellence and Chairman of the FINEX Golden Jubilee Book Project.


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